Sancocho de Habichuelas (Sweet and Spicy Bean Stew) is also known as Sopión, this is a delightful, hearty soup that combines spicy and sweet flavors.
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.
That is exactly the case with this Sancocho de Habichuelas (Sweet & Spicy Bean Stew). I grew up with this dish.
Sancocho de habichuelas, also known as sopión de habichuelas, or zambumbio, is a delightful, hearty soup that combines spicy and sweet flavors. 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.
Combining sweet and spicy
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.
About our recipe
As 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.
I invite you to give it a try. You might be surprised.
Sancocho de Habichuelas Recipe (Sweet and Spicy Bean Stew)
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 1 lb [0.45 kg] of smoked pork chops with bones, , cut into small pieces
- 1 lb [0.45 kg] of longaniza, (spicy pork sausage), cut into slices
- ½ teaspoon of mashed garlic
- 1 bell pepper, , chopped
- 4 cups of red kidney beans boiled very soft
- 1 cup of tomato sauce
- 1 quart [1 lt] of water
- 1 pinch of oregano
- 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro
- ½ lb [0.2 kg] of sweet potatoes, , peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 2 ripe plantains, , peeled and sliced
- 1½ teaspoon of salt, (or more, to taste)
- ½ teaspoon of pepper, (or more, to taste)
Brown meat: In a soup pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pork chops and sausage and cook stirring til they brown (5 to 7 minutes).
Add vegetables: Add garlic and bell pepper. Cook and stir for half a minute. Pour in the beans, tomato sauce, and water. Simmer covered for five minutes Add oregano, cilantro, sweet potatoes, sugar, and plantains.
Boil: Simmer 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: Remove from the heat and serve alongside white rice and avocado slices