vegan puerto rican cuisine

Asopao

Asopao

As many of you may know, Christmas is not over yet in Puerto Rico. It is, in fact, round two of the holidays. A big part of the Christmas traditions on the island is the “parranda”. Think of it as caroling, but with very lively, traditional holiday songs, late at night (i.e. after midnight), and people stay at the house for some minutes, and then move on to the next house. Usually at these “parrandas”, the owner of the house gives out drinks and appetizers, and if it’s already after 1:00am, there is usually “asopao”. This is a delicious soup with a stewed rice base.  It can be enjoyed at any time of the day, but it’s customary to serve it late. At my house, we loved to make it as an after-party meal right after we rang the new year. So, this is the perfect delicious, quick meal for your new year party.

Most commonly, “asopao” is made with chicken, but obviously I veganize it! There are several yummy, meatless versions, but one of my favorites is with small plantain balls. It can also be made with pigeon peas. The main recipe I post here is with the plantain balls since it takes some more work, but I will also include the pigeon peas option (which is really easy).

To make the Plantain Balls

Peel a green plantain and grate it on a box grater. Mix it with ¾ tsp or half a packet of “sazón” (seasoning) and ½ tsp salt. To make the mix more manageable, put it in the freezer for two hours. When you take it out, take about a tablespoon of mix and make a small ball. It does not have to be perfect, they most likely will be uneven. Place all the balls on wax paper and place them in the freezer while you make the soup. This will help the balls keep their shape.

Frozen plantain balls
Frozen Plantain Balls

To make the Asopao

Heat three tbsp. of vegetable oil and add the “sofrito”, “sazón”, vegetable bullion, tomato sauce, and olives. Sauté on medium heat for about five minutes. Add the rice and vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Then, add the plantain balls and “adobo”. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, so that it does not stick to the bottom. When the soup is done, it will have thickened. You can thin it out with some water to your liking. To make the “asopao” with green pigeon peas instead of plantains, you can add a can of green pigeon peas right before you add the rice. That’s the only change.

If you do not use vegetable bullion, you will probably need some more adobo. Adjust it to taste.

Remember, you can scale this recipe up or down depending on how many people you will be serving. It’s great for crowds!

Serve with some bread and avocado. ¡Buen provecho!

Asopao

 

Asopao

Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

Asopao

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sofrito
  • 3 tsp sazón/seasoning Or 2 packets
  • 1/2 cube vegetable bullion
  • 4 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp green olives
  • 1 cup medium grain white rice
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp adobo Or to taste

Plantain Balls

  • 1 plantain
  • 3/4 tsp sazón/seasoning Or 1/2 packet
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

Asopao

  • Heat three tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Add "sofrito", "sazón" (seasoning), vegetable bullion, tomato sauce, and olives. Sauté on medium heat for about five minutes.
  • Add the rice and vegetable broth, and bring to a simmer
  • Then, add the plantain balls
  • Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so that it does not stick to the bottom
  • When the soup has thickened, you can serve as is, or you can thin the soup with some water to your liking.
  • Serve with bread and avocado. Enjoy!

Plantain Balls

  • Peel a green plantain and grate it using a box grater
  • In a large bowl, mix it with ¾ tsp or half a packet of “sazón” (seasoning) and ½ tsp salt
  • Put the mix in the freezer for two hours, to make it more manageable
  • After taking it out of the freezer, form the balls. Take about a tablespoon of mix and make it into a ball. It will probably be uneven, but that is okay.
  • Place all the balls on wax paper and place them in the freezer while you make the soup. This will help the balls keep their shape.

Notes

A note on vegetable broth: Be careful of the vegetable broth you use. I typically buy low sodium broth, so the amounts of salt or adobo used will be different if you do not use low-sodium broth. This is very important, as broth with high contents of sodium can drastically change a soup. For reference, the broth I usually buy has 140 mg of sodium per cup.


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