Smoky Simmered Beans with Sofrito


The foundation of flavor for these savory, creamy beans comes from sofrito, a base of sauteed aromatics that Diaz grew up eating thanks to her Puerto Rican family. You will produce more sofrito than needed for this recipe, but you can store additional sofrito in the fridge for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Use it as a base for soups, stews, and other bean dishes. Note: If using home-cooked beans instead of canned, you may need 1/2 to 1 cup of additional broth.

Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
45 mins


For the Sofrito

  • 1 medium red or green bell pepper, seeded and cut into quarters

  • 3 aji dulce, aji amarillo, or mini bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped

  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled

  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

  • 6 sprigs fresh culantro leaves and tender stems, coarsely chopped (see Note)

  • 6 sprigs fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

For the Beans

  • 3 cups home-cooked pinto, navy, or pink beans (or two 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed)

  • ½ cup cup Sofrito (see above)

  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat or olive oil

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed

  • 2 dried bay leaves


  1. Prepare the sofrito: In a food processor or blender, pulse the garlic and peppers until smooth, then add the onion and herbs and blend until smooth. Measure out 1/2 cup sofrito for the recipe, and store the rest in the refrigerator for up to one week, or the freezer for up to 3 months.

  2. In a heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven, heat bacon fat or olive oil over medium-high.. Add sofrito and cook, stirring often, until liquid is fully evaporated, and sofrito darkens in color and emits an earthy, verdant aroma, 5 to 7 minutes.

  3. Add beans and bay leaves, stirring to coat. Pour in broth, bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, until beans are deeply flavorful and sauce is reduced so it just coats the beans, 25 to 30 minutes. If the beans get too dry during cooking, stir in more broth or water as needed. Serve with white rice, corn tortillas, or in a bowl by themselves with crusty bread.

    Sofrito Beans Recipe
    Anna Stockwell


Culantro—also called Chinese cilantro, sawtooth herb, or wild coriander—has long leaves with jagged edges and a stronger, earthier flavor than cilantro. You can find it in the produce section of most Latino markets, as well as many Asian markets. But if you can't find it, substitute equal parts cilantro and parsley.

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