Tag Archives: Bolivian

Recipe: Bolivian Soup with Wheat Berries (Sopa de Trigo)

29 Jan

There are probably as many versions of this soup as there are Bolivian families, and all of them likely to be delicious, but this is the version that has evolved at our house over the years. I love the bright-red color that comes from the tomato and chili pastes; it brightens even the coldest, most dreary day. I also love the soup’s many layers of flavor, each one contributing to the overall symphony. It’s even better the next day, so it’s a great make-ahead dish. And it’s very adaptable: make a vegetarian version by eliminating the beef/lamb, adding more veggies, and using vegetable broth/bouillon. Or substitute quinoa for the wheat if gluten is an issue.

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Bolivian Soup with Wheat Berries (Sopa de Trigo)

Wheat/Hominy:
1/3-1/2 c. dry wheat berries/trigo pelado
1 can (14 0z./400 gr.) cooked hominy/mote blanco, undrained
–OR 1/2 c. dried cracked hominy (maiz blanco trillado)–see photo below

½ c. freeze-dried potato/black chuño (optional)

Soup broth:
12 c./3 liters beef broth
1 lb./500 gr. meaty, bone-in beef or lamb
1 large onion, halved
1 large tomato, quartered
2 carrots, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
beef bouillon cubes (optional)

Soup Vegetables:
3/4 c. petite peas
2 large carrots, julienned
3 large potatoes, julienned (it’s traditional to julienne both the carrots and the potatoes, but I have been know to dice both instead…)

Sofrito:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lg. onion, finely diced
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1-2 tbsp. red aji (chili) paste (aji colorado/aji panca)–see photo below
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried oregano
coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Toppings:
2 green onions, finely sliced
1 tsbp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp. finely chopped  fresh mint

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Dried cracked hominy

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Red aji (chili) paste

Preparation:

  1. Note: If using  the optional freeze-dried potato/chuño, soak it in warm water overnight prior to making the soup. Before adding it to the soup in step #5, drain it and squeeze as much water out as possible. If necessary, chop into small pieces.
  2. Place the wheat berries (and, if using, the dried hominy) in a medium saucepan, cover with several inches of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 60-90 minutes or until both wheat and hominy are soft. Drain and set aside. If using canned hominy, pre-cook only the wheat, and add the undrained canned hominy to the soup in step #5.
  3. Meanwhile, add the broth and meat/bones to a large pot and bring to a low simmer, skimming periodically until no more foam is produced. Add the halved onion, quartered tomato, halved carrots, and the bay leaves and continue simmering slowly until the vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes. Check the seasonings and add beef bouillon cubes to taste, if needed.
  4. Remove the beef/lamb to a dish and let cool. Strain the broth through a fine-meshed sieve into a large bowl, mashing the tomato pieces to extract any remaining liquid. Return the broth to the pot and discard the vegetables.
  5. Shred the meat, discarding the bones and any fat, and add the shredded meat to the pot along with 1 c. of the cooked wheat, the hominy, the freeze-dried potato/chuño (if using), and the peas, carrots, and potatoes. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the sofrito: Heat the olive oil  in a skillet over medium-high heat, add the onion, and cook until soft and slightly golden. Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, to make a fragrant paste. Add the paste to the soup pot, stir to mix, and continue simmering the soup, covered, for 15 minutes or more to develop the flavors and ensure all vegetables are soft. If the soup seems too thick, add more water. If it needs more salt, add another bouillon cube.
  7. Serve with the sliced green onions and herbs sprinkled on top, and with plenty of crusty bread.

Recipe: Bolivian Peanut Soup with Chicken (Sopa de Mani)

3 Mar

Bolivian Peanut Soup is a one-bowl wonder, the ultimate comfort food–especially with fried potatoes and queso fresco (or the un-Latin American but perfectly substitutable feta cheese) sprinkled on top. Traditionally, the soup is made with beef bones, but I prefer to make it with small pieces of boneless chicken breast instead; chicken and peanuts have a natural affinity for each other, and chicken makes the soup a bit lighter. This can easily be made vegetarian or vegan, too, by omitting the chicken and making the soup with vegetable broth. The 1 tbsp. chili paste listed here adds a mild kick to the soup–if you like heat, add more.

Bolivian Peanut Soup with Chicken (Sopa de Mani)

1 c. roasted unsalted peanuts
3 tbsp. peanut or canola oil, divided in half
2 large boneless chicken breast halves (about 1.5 lb. total), cut into small bite-sized pieces (about 1/4 inch)
1 lg. white onion, diced
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. turmeric (or palillo)
1 tbsp. aji amarillo paste (yellow chili paste), available at international/Latin food markets
2 lg. potatoes, peeled and diced
6 c.  chicken broth
salt and pepper
chicken bouillon cube or powder (if needed)

Garnish
2 large potatoes, julienned, and fried in oil until golden
crumbled queso blanco (or feta)
chopped parsley or cilantro

Preparation
1. Grind the peanuts almost to a powder in a food processor (or pound them in a mortar and pestle in several batches); set aside.

Crushed peanuts

2. Heat 1.5 tbsp oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the chicken, and cook until no longer pink; remove the chicken from the pot along with any juices that may have accumulated, and keep warm.
3. Add the remaining oil to the pot, then cook the onion and carrots until the onion is soft, stirring occasionally.  Mix in the spices and aji amarillo (yellow chili) paste and cook 1-2 minutes.

One of the many brands of aji amarillo paste

4. Add the potatoes and peanuts to the pot, and stir well to coat.

Onions, carrots, potatoes, peanuts, and spices

5. Pour the broth over the vegetables, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer about 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Blend the soup with an immersion blender (or in a standard blender, in batches, returning soup to pot after it is blended). Add chicken pieces and accumulated juices to the soup  and simmer another 15 minutes, adding a bit more broth if the soup appears thick. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and/or a chicken bouillon cube or bouillon powder if needed.


Soup, pre-garnish

6. Before serving the soup, fry potatoes until crisp; salt lightly.
7. Ladle soup into bowls, top with fried potatoes, then sprinkle with cheese and parsley (or cilantro). Serve immediately.