Food is not just nourishment. There’s also an emotional relationship between people and food. And the food we grew up with, no matter how unusual to the rest of the world, always comforts us and brings us memories of happy times long gone.
I grew up with this dish.
Like we have mentioned before, most Dominicans learn how to cook from their relatives. In my case I absorbed a bit from fairly much all of my closest female relatives. This stew was passed on to me by my aunt Flora, at whose house I spent many a day of my childhood, playing with her children, my older cousins.
With its combination of sweet, savory and spicy flavors it is an intriguing dish. But combining sweet and savory in our meals is not unheard of for Dominicans. In fact, it is very common.
From serving our meals with fritos maduros and plátanos al caldero, to adding raisins and fruits to many of our dishes, it seems like our sweet tooth has taken serious possession of our culinary culture. And while there may be a few Dominicans who do not share their fellow countrymen’s enthusiasm for sweet and savory meals, the vast majority seem to regard it as normal.
For the record the stew itself is not sweet, it’s the ripe plantains and sweet potatoes that will give it its sweet touch to contrast with the lightly spicy stew.
I invite you to give it a try. You might be surprised.
Sopión de habichuelas, also known as sancocho de habichuelas, is a delightful, hearty soup that combines spicy and sweet flavors.
- 4 cups of red kidney beans boiled very soft
- 1 lb of smoked pork chops with bones, cut into small pieces
- 1 lb of longaniza (spicy pork sausage), cut into slices
- 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup of tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of mashed garlic
- 1 pinch of oregano
- 1/2 lb of sweet potatoes
- 2 ripe plantains
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- In a pot heat the oil over medium heat.
- Add the pork chops and sausage and brown.
- Add garlic, and bell pepper. Cook and stir for half a minute.
- Add the beans, tomato sauce and a quart of water.
- Add oregano, cilantro, sweet potatoes, sugar and plantains.
- Boil over medium heat until all the ingredients are cooked throughout and the stew reaches a creamy consistency. Adjust water if it becomes necessary.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with arroz blanco.
If you bought pork chops with bones, don't throw them away! Add them to the stew and remove when serving, they will add extra flavor to it.