Peanut Soup

Appetizer, Bolivian, Dinner, Lunch

Sopa de Maní is one of the most famous soups in Bolivia.  We eat this peanut soup as an appetizer before our main course at lunch time and that is because in Bolivia, just like in the majority of Latin America, the mid-day meal is the most important meal of the day.  Around noon, on weekdays, everybody stops working for several hours so they can go home to eat.  This is our time to share food with family and afterwards to have a siesta.  In Bolivia my family would usually have this soup on Sundays at a pension.  Pensiones are little rustic restaurants and almost all of them serve this Sopa de Maní. 

 Our most memorable time that we made this soup was last winter when we were visiting our friend Carrie in Montreal.  While Carrie was at work, me, James and Cathe spent the day cooking food all day long for a Bolivia themed party with all the best Bolivian dishes.  After preparing most of the evenings meal (including this Sopa de Maní) we decided to go out for a walk to try and find the famous bagels of Montreal.  After nearly 4 hours of wandering all over Montreal (we did find the bagels by the way) we came back to Carries house to finish up for the party and found that Carries entire apartment, floor to ceiling, was filled with smoke and the most horrible smell.  

As it turns out, we had each thought that the other had turned off the stove earlier.  You see, Cathes tip for keeping the soup from boiling over is to keep a spoon in the pot, and after storming into the kitchen it was clear exactly where the smell was coming from.  Our once delicious Sopa de Maní had actually simmered away all day to nothing but the ground nuts and a plastic spoon melting into the pot.  We needed to air out the apartment fast, and so even though it was -15 outside we opened every door and window and started work at ridding the apartment of the smoke and odor.  We lit candles and incense to try to mask the burnt plastic smell and after getting over our incredible luck that our oversight hadn’t caused the building to burn down I ran to the nearby marché and bought some new peanuts so we could put together another pot of Sopa de Maní…. this is how important this soup is to us Bolivians.  We simply could not have had the party without it!

 This is one of my favourite dishes from home and I think you are going to love this soup too!

The recipe calls for raw peanuts but if you can’t find them raw just buy roasted peanuts and rinse the salt off.  This makes enough soup for about 6 people.

The Ingredients

  • 1 1/2  cups peanuts (preferably raw) / tazas de mani
  • 2 tbsps olive oil / cucharadas de aceite de oliva
  • 1  yellow onion / cebolla
  • 1 clove garlic / ajo
  • 1 large carrot / zanahoria
  • 6 to 8 cups of chicken stock / tazas de caldo de pollo
  • 8 chicken drumsticks / piernas de pollo
  • 1 to 2 cups of rigatoni (I like it with lots of pasta) / tazas de  pasta rigatoni
  • 1 potato / papa
  • 1 handful of parsley /  punal de perejil
  • vegetable oil to fry / aceite vegetal para freir
  • Salt and pepper to taste / sal y pimienta a gusto

The Instructions

  • Blend the peanuts with a little bit of water until smooth and set aside / licuar el maní con un poco de agua y dejar a un lado
  • Cut the potato into small fries and fry them in oil until they are done. Set aside /  cortar las papas en pequeñas rodajas, como haciendo papas fritas pero aun mas pequeñas.
  • Dice the onion, slice the carrots, and mince the garlic and set aside / cortar la cebolla, la zanahoria y el ajo y dejar a un lado

  • Heat the oil in a large pot, add the garlic and the onion.  Cook the onion until it is soft and changes color / Calentar el aceite en un olla, agregar el ajo y la cebolla, cocinar hasta que esten blandos y hayan cabiado de color
  • Add the carrots, cook until they soften a little.  Add the chicken pieces and cook for 2-3 minutes / Agregar la zanahoria, cocinar hasta que este blanda, agregar el pollo y dejar cocinar por dos minutos

  •  Pour in the chicken stock and bring everything to a boil, add the pureed peanuts and let it simmer for 1 hour / Agregar el caldo de pollo y dejar hervir, despues agrege el mani y dejar cocinar la mezcla por una hora
  • Remove the chicken from the soup, shred the meat off the bones and add the meat back into the broth / sacar el pollo y desmenuzarlo, despues de esto volver a ponerlo a la sopa
  • Taste the soup and add salt and pepper as necessary / pruebe la sopa y agregar sal y pimienta si es necesario
  • Add the rigatoni and cook until al dente – between 6-8 minutes /  Agregar la pasta rigatoni hasta que este lista

  •  Sprinkle the soup with fries and chopped parsley before serving /  Servir con papas fritas y parejil encima

Arepas with Chorizo

Appetizer, Dinner, Snack

What is an Arepa? Arepas are the corn patties in the dish you see pictured above, they are made of a special corn flour that has been pre-cooked and they are popular in various parts of Latin America and especially in Colombia and Venezuela. A popular brand name for the special corn flour is Harina P.A.N. (we pick up ours at Superstore)

I had my first opportunity to try an arepa while I was living in Fredericton New Brunswick. I was in Fredericton for several months during the first part of a Canada World Youth volunteer exchange program and I was set up with the most incredible host family who were originally from Colombia. My host mother, Marisa, would make delicious food and arepas were part of the weekly menu. In the house the arepa was just a common breakfast item, but for me they were something completely unique. I would always rave about the arepas whenever we had them and so when it was time to leave the community after our 3 1/2 month stay I was given the greatest send off package of a dozen freshly made arepas from Marisa. In Fredericton we ate the arepas in the morning as a quick breakfast with some cheese, butter and eggs and even now, years later, the smell of arepas cooking bring back strong memories of living with my maritime family.

This version of arepas served with the grilled chorizo sausage, guacamole and plantain garnish is inspired by one of the dishes me and Fabio had at our anniversary dinner this year at Baru Latino – a great latin restaurant here in Vancouver. We’ve modeled the presentation after the dish at Baru.

Me and Fabio made these as an evening snack but have also made miniature versions of the arepas with smaller slices of chorizo to serve as an appetizer before a lighter main course. We recommend to go heavy on the lime juice in the guacamole as it really brightens the flavors of the whole dish.

This recipe will make a dozen arepas.

The Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Harina P.A.N / tazas Harina P.A.N
  • 1 1/4 cups milk / tazas de leche
  • 2 tbsps butter / cucharas de mantequilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt / cucharilla de sal
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar / cuchara de azúcar
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella / taza de queso mozzarella
  • Chorizo sausage
  • 2 avocados / paltas
  • cilantro / culantro
  • juice of 1 lime / jugo de un limón
  • 1 plantain / plátano
  • vegetable oil for frying / aceite vegetal para freir

The Instructions

  • Heat the milk over medium heat until bubbles appear on sides of saucepan remove from heat and add butter in pieces – leave to melt / Calentar la leche sobre fuego medio hasta que salgan burbujas a los lados de la olla, sacar del fuego y agregar la mantequilla en pedazos – dejar que se derrita
  • In a large bowl combine Harina PAN, grated mozarella, sugar and salt and mix together. Pour the warm milk and butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until combined and set aside / En un recipiente grande agregar la Harina P.A.N., el queso rallado, azúcar y sal y mezclar. Poner la mezcla de leche y mantequilla a los ingredientes secos y mezclar bien y dejar a lado

  • Form patties for arepas in your hand and set aside on a plate / Hacer arepas con sus manos con la masa y dejar aparte


  • Open avocados and add to a small bowl, smash together / Abrir las paltas y poner en un recipiente pequeno, aplastarlas
  • Chop a handful of cilantro and add to avocado, mix well and add juice of one lime and a pinch of salt / Picar un puñal de culantro y mezclar con las paltas, agregue jugo de un limón y un poco de sal y combinar bien

  • Slice skin of the plantain and peel off. Use a vegetable peeler to cut thin strips of plantain / Pelar los plátanos. Usar un pelador de verduras para cortar rajas delgadas de plátano
  • Heat oil over medium heat until a small piece of plantain added to the oil bubbles continuously / Calentar el aceite sobre fuego medio hasta que el aceite esta listo a freir
  • To obtain curvy plantain chips – fold thinly sliced plantain like an accordian and drop gently just above the oil. flip once as soon as chip begins to brown. As the plantain is so thin, this may only take 20 seconds or so. Remove with slotted spoon and rest on paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil / Para obtener el plátano frito con una forma curva, poner los plátanos a freir apretando gentilmente los lados haciendo una forma de acordeón (como las fotos abajo) , volcar cuando comienzen a cambiar de color, debe tomar como 20 segundos para freir los plátanos. Sacar del sartén y colocar los plátanos sobre papel de toalla
  • Once plantain is all fried, add a few tablespoons of hot oil to frying pan and keep heat at medium to fry arepas. Fry one at a time, turning only once. Remove to drain on paper towels / Cuando los plátanos esten fritos, colocar algunas cucharas de aceite caliente a un sartén y mantener fuego medio para cocinar las arepas. Freir una por una volcando solo una vez. Sacar del sartén y colocar sobre papel de toalla
  • While frying arepas, cut chorizo sausages in half and grill on panini grill or in grill pan until hot and crispy on outside with visible grill marks / Al mismo tiempo que esté haciendo freir las arepas, cortar los chorizos a la mitad y ponerlos a la parilla hasta que esten listos

Presentation / Presentación

  • Start with one Arepa on plate and top with two pieces of grilled chorizo, cut in half another arepa and place on top of chorizo. Top it off with a large spoonful of guacamole and a crispy plantain chip / Comienze con una arepa en el plato y colocar dos pedazos de chorizo, corte otra arepa a la mitad y colocar encima de los chorizos. Poner una cuchara grande de guacamole y el plátano frito encima

Cheese Empanadas

Appetizer, Bolivian, Breakfast, Brunch, Snack

This is the type of pastry you pick up with a coffee on a weekday morning in Santa Cruz. Each empanada would only cost a couple of bolivianos (about 30cents). I miss that type of pricing and I love the simplicity of these, they are just melted cheese wrapped in sweet dough and fried. Nothing can go wrong here.

These empanadas are one of my husbands favourite snacks and so became the first of many recipes I learned while I was in Bolivia. Me and Fabio would often get a couple of these before work in the mornings and I grew quite accustomed to them. When Fabio was away on a trip to the Caribbean, our friend Cathe taught me the process and recipe so that I could surprise Fabio with homemade empanadas on his return. I should have just made these… but I had actually prepared a whole breakfast feast including fruit salad, dulce and salado crepes, and a huge platter of these empanadas. I hadn’t taken into consideration that Fabio had just been on a cruise ship eating non-stop for the past 12 days….I actually have a tendency to get carried away with these things that I can only recognize in retrospect. We usually make these on their own for an easy Saturday morning breakfast – just like this with coffee on the side, just like in Santa Cruz.

This dough is enough for about a dozen larger empanadas. Every single time I intend to make mini ones – cause how great is mini food? but I always look at the extra work folding all those edges would be and chicken out. One day…. one day….

The Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour / tazas de harina
  • 1/2 cup sugar / taza de azúcar
  • 1 tsp baking powder / cucharilla de polvo de hornear
  • 1/2 tsp salt / cucharilla de sal
  • 1 egg / huevo
  • 3 Tbsps melted butter or margarine / cuchara de mantequilla derretida
  • warm water (approx 1/2 cup) agua tibia (approx media taza)
  • Grated cheese – approx 2 cups Mozzarella, Asiago or a mix of the two / Queso rallado aproximadamente 2 tazas

The Instructions

  • Mix together in a large bowl the dry ingredients – Flour, sugar, baking powder and salt / Mezclar en un recipiente grande los ingredientes secos – la harina, azúcar, polvo de hornear y sal
  • Melt butter in a saucepan or microwave / Derretir la mantequilla en una sartén o en el microonda
  • Make a well in the dry ingredients and add 1 beaten egg and stir a few strokes then pour melted butter over mixture and add enough warm water to form a soft dough / Poner el huevo batido a los ingredientes secos y batir un poco, Derretir la mantequilla sobre los ingredientes y añadir bastante agua tibia para formar una masa suave
  • Using your hands to form dough, add water little by little and flour to balance out the dough if it gets too sticky. The end result should be soft with a bit of elasticity. the dough should return after a few seconds if you push your finger into it / Usa las manos para formar la masa, añadir agua poco a poco y usar un poco más harina si la masa es pegajosa. Al final la masa debe ser suave con un poco de elasticidad
  • Tear off small handfuls of dough and form a ball then roll out as thin as possible / Sacar bolitas de la masa y fuselear tan delgado como possible
  • Keep remaining dough covered in moist towel to keep from drying out / Cubrir la masa restante con una pañuelo mojado para que no se seque
  • Add a palmful of shredded cheese to center of the dough and close up / Poner approx 1/4 taza de queso rallado al centro de la masa fuseleada y cerrar
  • They call the folds that seal the empanada the ‘picos’ and the process consists of folding and pinching the dough together with your thumb and forefinger while working your way around the sealed edge / Este proceso de cerrar la masa se llama picos – hay algunas fotos abajo que muestran como hacerlos con tus dedos

how to close the empanada

  • Heat a neutral oil (we use Canola) in a frying pan on med high heat. Test the oil by adding a small piece of dough to the oil and watch for it to rise and bubble at the surface. Fry two to three empanadas at a time for one to two minutes per side. You want the color to be a light golden brown / Calentar el aceite (Estamos usando aceite vegetal) en una sartén sobre fuego medio alto. Prueba si el aceite esta listo poniendo un poquito de la masa al aceite y si es que salen burbujas y comienza a colorear la masa, es que la aceite esta listo. Freir dos o tres empanadas al mismo tiempo, por uno o dos minutos por lado. El color debe ser dorado
  • Remove when finished to a paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil / Sacar las empanadas cuando estan listas a una toalla de papel para sacar el exceso de aceite
  • Dust lightly with powdered sugar and serve immediately / Polvorear con azúcar impalpable y servir inmediatamente