Porotos con rienda, or bean and pumpkin soup (Chile)

Located in the South of South America, Chile is the most elongated country in the world, being 4,300 kilometers long but on average just 175 km wide. It houses a variety of different climates from rainy temperate areas to glaciers and the driest desert in the world, Atacama. It is one of the most developed and prosperous countries in South America.

Chile is well-known of its red wines, which are also used in their cooking. Their cuisine has been influenced by the Spanish, as well as some other European cuisines. Because of the long coastline fish and other seafood is popular, though pork, lamb, game and other meats are also eaten a lot. The shape of the country also means cooking traditions are very different in different parts of the country.

Common ingredients in Chilean cooking include potatoes, tomatoes, corn, quinoa, olives, cherimoya (a fruit related to the “guanabana” present in many juices in the Western world – both fruits are delicious), lucuma (a now popular “superfruit”, also delicious). Food is cooked in many different ways, such as soups, stews and barbeques. Pies, sandwiches, tortillas and empanadas are also popular and Chileans love their desserts.

This recipe (whose name apparently means “beans with reins”) made me think of Italian cooking, with the beans, pumpkin, spaghetti and oregano. It is nothing too exciting, but very nice as far as comfort foods go. When reheating the leftovers I tried adding 1 tsp of ginger paste, which is very untraditional but made it even better. (As you can see, my version ended up very dry as usual.)

Porotos con rienda

Porotos con rienda

7 oz/200 g dried white beans
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, grated
1.5 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika powder
1.75 lbs/800 g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled de-seeded and sliced into 3 cm cubes
2 tbsp oil
~4 cups/1 l vegetable broth or water
4 oz/115 g spaghetti, broken in half
salt to taste

Soak the beans overnight and cook until done.

Heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic, carrot and spices on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Boil the pumpkin pieces in the water or broth for about 10 minutes (alternatively roast the pumpkin in larger chunks in the oven, cut it into smaller chunks after it has cooled down and skip this step, just putting the spaghetti in the water/broth and adding the pumpkin when the spaghetti is done). Add the spaghetti and cook until it is done, about 10 minutes.

Remove about 1/3 of the pumpkin pieces into a bowl and mash them with a fork or potato masher (I like to use an immersion blender which is switched off for mashing things). Add this mashed mixture back to the pot. Add the carrot onion mixture as well and stir to combine.

Serve hot with bread. Makes 4-6 portions.

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