Bolivia

Bolivian Peanut Soup

Sopa de mani

As Rommy Holman, from Cochabamba, Bolivia, taught Lindsay Sterling in Cumberland, Maine.

Serves: 8
Cooking Time: 2-3 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 4 beef ribs or bone-in cut of beef
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 small carrots
  • 1/2 green pepper, medium dice
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, medium dice
  • 10 green beans, sliced diagonally across for long, thin ovals
  • 1/2 pound skinless raw peanuts (they're not tan or brown, they're cream-colored and may be called blanched)
  • 4 yukon potatoes
  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • 1 big clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp powdered cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • handful fresh cilantro
  • handful fresh parsley
  • small bunch fresh celery leaves
  • 1/4 cup peas

Accompaniments:

  • 1 tomato
  • 1 jalepeno
  • small handful cilantro
  • crusty bread (optional, omit if you eat gluten-free)

Instructions

1. Fill a soup pot 2/3 full of water, and add 1 Tbsp salt and the beef. Bring to boil and simmer for 1 hour or two until meat is tender. Keep a lid on while you simmer to keep broth from evaporating too much. As the soup simmers, skim any fat and foam that rise to the top of the soup with a big flat spoon and discard.

2. While the meat broth is brewing, cut your veggies. Cut carrots lengthwise into 1/4" thick planks and then crosswise into 1/4" strips. Dice the green and red pepper and onion. And cut the green beans on the diagonal to make thin long ovals. Put the veggies in the soup pot.

3. Make a raw peanut puree by blending the peanuts in a blender with about a cup of water until you have what looks like almost-melting vanilla ice cream. After the meat has cooked for at least an hour, add the peanut puree so the soup turns white with a creamy surface. Continue cooking for an hour. I wouldn't fudge that particular cooking time because Rommy said, "Raw peanuts need to be cooked an hour at least or it makes the tummy ache. That's what my mom says." An hour then! Stir occasionally so the peanut particles don't burn on the bottom.

4. While the peanut broth is cooking, mash the garlic, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp cumin in a mortar and pestle, adding a little salt to aid in the grinding. Don't forget to smell this because it's very satisfying. Add the garlic-spice-mash to the soup.

5. Make a bowl of fresh feathery herbs by gathering a tight bouquet of parsley and cilantro (she'd also use quilquina if she were home) and cutting across them toward your thumb with a paring knife.

6. Peel the potatoes slice them into round slices, and then slicing across the the slices to make thin strips. Cover these with water (to keep from turning brown) until soup is almost done.

7. Make homemade hotsauce, called llajua, by pulsing in a blender: fresh jalapenoes, tomatoes, and fresh cilantro (at home she would use a native herb called quilquina). Her mother would make llajua on a traditional tool, a rectangular mortar and pestle called a batan. Avoid putting the blender on full blast - it makes the hotsauce foamy, which is not authentic. Serve llajua in dishes on the table for individuals to spoon into their soup as they like.

8. After the peanut-broth has simmered for an hour, add 1 cup of rice. After the rice has cooked for about ten minutes, use cooking twine to tie a bouquet of celery leaves and parsley leaves together, and then steep the bouquet in the soup. Sprinkle dried oregano over top.

9. Now taste the soup. Add salt so that it tastes the best it can be. I added about 1 teaspoon. Take the meat out of the pot. Pull the meat off the bones, discard the bones, and put the meat back in soup.

10. Strain the potatoes. Pat them dry with paper towels. Heat a half-inch of oil in a large frying pan on medium high. Line a plate with paper towel. Once oil is hot, fry the potatoes in batches until they're golden brown. Let them cool/dry on the paper towel. (If the oil is smoking, turn the heat down. If the potatoes aren't bubbling when you put them in, turn the heat up). Sprinkle salt on the fried potatoes. 

11. When the rice in the soup is cooked, add the peas. When the peas are cooked, serve the soup in shallow bowls. Garnish each bowl with a mound of fried potatoes in the center of each bowl and fresh herbs all over top. Serve with chunks of baguette and the llajua on the table.

Bolivian Beef, Rice, Potatoes and Salad

Silpancho

As Rommy Cornejo Holman, from Cochabamba, Bolivia, taught Lindsay Sterling in North Yarmouth, ME. Photos by David Holman.

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 1 hr

Ingredients

  • 1 c. white rice
  • 3 yukon gold potatoes
  • 3/4 c. breadcrumbs
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • 3/4 lb. ground beef
  • 1 small green pepper
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 3 tomatoes
  • about 1/2 cup + 2 tsp canola or sunflower oil
  • 1 jalapeño (in Bolivia she uses locoto peppers, similiar to habañero, w/o seeds)
  • small bunch cilantro (in Bolivia, she would use an herb called quilquina)
  • 4 eggs

Equipment

  • small to medium pot w/ lid for cooking rice
  • medium pot for boiling potatoes
  • mixing bowl
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • 2 cereal bowls
  • 2 spoons
  • rolling pin
  • 2 dinner plates
  • 2 large saute pans
  • spatula 
  • nonstick pan or egg poacher
  • large platter or sheet pan 
  • paper towels
  • food mill, blender, or food processor (or a bottle of hotsauce)

Instructions

1. Cook white rice. Put rice in a small to medium pot. Cover rice with 3/4 inch water, bring to a boil, cover, turn to simmer, and cook on low for 20 minutes. 

2. Par-cook the potatoes. In a medium pot cover potatoes with water, bring to a boil, and cook for 5-10 minutes until the potatoes are cooked half way through. The potatoes are soft on the outside but still hard on the inside. 

3. Make the salad topping. Cut one red pepper, one green pepper, one red onion, and one tomato into 1/4-inch cubes and put into a bowl. Make the dressing by mixing 2teaspoons cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons canola or sunflower oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper in a small bowl with a fork. Gently mix the dressing into the salad.

Rommy Holman teaches how to cook her favorite dish.

4. Blend fresh hot sauce. Blend the chili peppers and 2 tomatoes (cut wedges) as briefly as possible to liquify for a fresh hot sauce (or skip this step and use your favorite bottled hot sauce). For hotter sauce, include the seeds of the peppers. For milder, just use the flesh of the peppers. Put the hot sauce in a small bowl with a spoon and put on the table as a condiment.

5. Roll the beef. In a mixing bowl, massage 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper into beef with hands. Separate ground beef into 4 balls. Put the breadcrumbs in a pile on cutting board. Flatten each ball and press both sides into ground beef. Roll with a rolling pin on top of breadcrumbs sprinkled with more fresh pepper. Flip over beef patty and roll again. Continue rolling and flipping until the beef is the thinness of a crepe. Make a stack of four of these on a dinner plate. Wash the cutting board, mixing bowl, your hands, and anything else the raw beef touched.

6. Fry the potatoes. Drain potatoes, cool enough to touch, then slice across the potatoes making 1/4-inch rounds. Heat two large saute pans or flat griddle on medium with 1 Tbsp oil on each. Cook potatoes in a single layer, three to five minutes on each side or as long as it takes to turn the potatoes golden brown. Once the potatoes are golden, cool them on paper towels.

7. Sear the beef. Turn the heat to medium high under the same pan(s) you used to cook the potatoes. Add 1 Tbsp oil to each pan. Once oil is hot, add one beef patty per pan. Flip the beef when the cooked brown color starts replaces about half of the raw pink. Stack cooked beef rolls on a fresh plate, and wash the plate that the raw beef was on. 

8. Fry four eggs, leaving yolks runny. 

9. Assemble the plates. Gather all the components (rice, potatoes, beef, eggs, and salad) near a stack of serving plates. On each plate, put a scoop of rice in the center. Decorate the rim with five potatoes spaced evenly. Put the beef on top of the rice (the potatoes should be poking out from underneath). Put egg on top of beef, and the the colorful salad on top of the egg. Garnish with quilquina or cilantro. Serve with fresh hot sauce on the table as a condiment.