November 23 Reading in Review
December 23 Reading in Review

Christmas Asopao

So I am terrible about cooking in a systematic way.  I cook by feel and taste most of the time.  I love cookbooks, but I rarely make things as written more than once. I love them for the ideas, techniques and flavor combinations.  The rest of the time I just throw things in the pot based on what I have on hand. My kids used to teasingly always ask for Mama soup, because they knew they would get something tasty even though it might not be the same as last time. Sometimes there would be swiss chard, other times chickpeas and then next gandules...but it would be yummy and warm.

On Christmas Eve I made a pot of asopao as our dinner, and since Rose is home sick I brought some over to her yesterday. She asked for recipe since she liked it so much.  My first instinct was to send her the I referred to Yvonne Ortiz's A Taste of Puerto Rico, one of the cookbooks I turned to the most over the last 3 decades of living on my own.  I always highly customize them to fit my needs and family ways of cooking.  But as I sent her a photo of recipe I realized how much I had customized it, so much that it was its own thing. 

Asopao is Puerto Rican soup served hot that is either cooked with rice in it or served over rice or in Mofongo.  It is most often made with chicken and its favorful broth is heavily seasoned with sofrito and annatto oil.

I am sorry but I took no pictures while cooking but here is my best approximation of what I made.


1/4 of cup of annatto oil (red-tinged oil made from annatto seeds simmered in olive oil) feel free to sub out a Sazon packet and olive oil or Achiotina (Lard with Annatto).

Diced onions (small onion)

Diced Green pepper (half of medium to large pepper)

(this time I added a bonus ingredient of diced celery, cause I had it)

Diced Potatoes  (chopped baby creamer & red skinned potatoes), approximately a cup

3 chicken breasts roughly chopped and tossed with adobo (can sub garlic powder, cumin, salt  & pepper)

2 cups of Gandules  (I use half a can of Green Pigeon Peas and half of can of Dried Pigeon Peas and then freeze the extras).

3/4 of cup of Recaito (I make my own which is pureed cubanel and green peppers, onion, garlic, cilantro, recao leaf)

sometimes I add approximately a tablespoon of condensed tomato paste.

4 to 6 cups of Chicken broth (I actually used some of the turkey broth I had in the fridge)  plus whatever you need to cover everything well.

I start by lightly sautéing the diced onions, peppers and potatoes (and anything else I feel like) in the annatto oil  in a generously sized Dutch oven.  While it cooks, chop the chicken and toss with adobo. When the onions start to look translucent, I added the chicken.  I mix it up enthusiastically with the cooking veggies, so it gets coated with the red oil.  I then dump in the recaito & tomato paste in, followed by the broth and the gandules.  Stir it all up and simmer over medium low heat, till it starts looking good like it all cooked. I simmer mine about 45ish minutes but it could have been done sooner but the gandules were a block of ice when I dumped them in the pot.

While the soup is simmering, cook up some rice. I prefer medium grain.  I do 1 cup for 1 and 1/2 cup of water, plus salt and olive oil.

To serve, add rice to the bottom of your bowl and pour soup over it.

Buen Provecho y Prospero Año Nuevo

(also published in my mostly defunct family blog: A Coqui in Winterfell)

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