This is by far one of my favorite soups ever!! I had to write this recipe to make a large pot because this soup is so good, I can never make a small amount because it wont last. On those cool winter days or rainy spring nights, I make a nice big pot of this soup, invite my friends and family over and we hang out listening to some good music, have some drinks and enjoy a warm bowl of “sopa de pecho.”
If you like hearty soups and want to try some Dominican comfort food, I recommend you make this recipe. It is a definite crowd pleaser!
If you want to make a smaller amount, just scale the recipe down by cutting down the ingredients by half.
To make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
8lbs Beef with bones (the cut is from the cow’s chest)
1 Red bell pepper
1 Green bell pepper
1 large onion (yellow or red)
2 cups fresh cilantro
5 cloves of garlic
4 Habanero chiles (aji gustoso)
2 tbsp oregano
2 cups Sour Orange Juice (naranga agria, may subtitute with vinegar)
3 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
3 tbsp of vegetable oil
5 large potatoes
5 Green bananas
2lbs Cassava (Yuca)
4 Corn Ears
2 Cups of thin noodles (fideos)
Water (approx 20 cups)
The cut of meat that is used (from the cow’s chest) with the bones gives it so much delicious flavor, I don’t recommend you substitute it with another cut.
Beef with bones can be tricky to find in some supermarkets. I usually buy them in a Spanish supermarket that is close to my house, but if you ask a butcher in your nearby meat market or supermarket, I’m sure they can get this for you.
Fresh sour oranges can also be tricky to find in the bigger supermarkets. Usually the Spanish markets or bodegas carry them, but if you don’t have one near you, the bigger supermarkets do carry sour orange juice (usually in the international food isle) and that works just as well.
To begin with our soup, first take the meat and rinse with water, place in a large bowl and pour the sour orange juice over it,
Then add some water to cover the meat (don’t rinse out the juice) and stir to make sure that the meat gets soaked with the water and the juice,
Let the meat soak in the water and sour orange juice for 20 – 30 minutes.
In the meantime, while the meat is soaking, I like to prepare a marinade in the blender. I highly recommend to blend this marinade instead of finely chopping the vegetables (which you could do if you prefer) because it will infuse more flavor into the meat.
To make the marinade, rough chop the bell peppers (remove the seeds) and onion, then add to the blender,
Add about 1 cup of fresh water,
Start blending, then add half of the cilantro (1 cup),
While the vegetables are blending, add some salt (about 1 tsp),
Then add the juice of 2 limes,
At this point, if you have been pre-soaking the meat, you can rinse it out with fresh water,
The meat will have absorbed some of the flavor from the juice, but make sure to rinse out the excess juice. Once the meat is cleaned and drained, squeeze the juice of the remaining 2 limes.
Then add the black pepper,
Then add some salt (about 2 tsp),
Chop (or mash as I do) the garlic and add it to the meat,
I love using habanero chiles (aji gustozo) in many of my recipes because they are flavorful and give the dish a little kick. Just make sure to use the green ones, the red ones are very HOT. Sometimes they can be found in the larger supermarkets depending on the season. If you know of a Spanish market, I suggest you try finding them there, usually they carry them year round.
Chop the habanero chiles (aji gustozo) and add them to the meat. Stir well to incorporate the seasonings,
Once everything is mixed, pour the blended marinade we made earlier over the meat,
Stir well, make sure to cover every piece with all of that delicious flavor. I recommend you let it marinate for atleast 2 hours, or overnight for best results before cooking.
Now comes the fun part, cooking time!! 🙂
I have this lovely and very un-fancy (I know it’s not a real word 🙂 ) pot that I bought in a Spanish supermarket that is designed for hearty soups and stews. Use a big pot because that way you will have good space to work with when adding the remaining ingredients.
Add the vegetable oil (3 tbsp) and put the heat on high.
Let the oil get really hot, then start adding the beef pieces. Make sure to add the beef without the liquid in the marinade, a good way to do this is to separate the beef from the liquid before to make it easier when it comes to add to the pot. The meat will make a LOUD sizzling noise, that is normal (the meat is not burning) just let it rest without stirring.
Save the marinade for later, you don’t want to waste all of that deliciousness now do you? 🙂
The meat in the pot will start to sweat it’s juices. At this point just cover it and let it simmer for 1 hour in its juices, stirring every 15 – 20 minutes.
After about 30 minutes, the meat should still have a good amount of liquid. It usually takes about an hour for most of the liquid to evaporate, if it’s drying up fast though, go to the next step. Just make sure to stir it every 15 – 20 minutes while the beef is simmering.
When the liquid has evaporated, the beef will start “frying” in the oil and fat the meat released. At this point it should be soft, but not fall of the bone tender. Let it fry for a couple of minutes so that the beef gets a little darker, then add the left over marinade,
Stir and let it cook in the marinade for a few minutes (10 minutes should be fine),
Now, add the water (about 20 cups (1 gallon and 4 cups) which is what I added to this batch),
Cover the pot and bring up to a boil. When it comes to a boil, just let it hang out for a few minutes and start to prep the vegetables. First, take the corn ears and cut each ear into 4 smaller pieces then add to the pot. You can buy pre-cut frozen corn ears in the supermarket (I’ve seen them in several of the bigger chains and they work great for this soup).
Cut the carrots into small bite sized pieces, add to the pot.
Then take the celery and cut into small bite sized pieces, add to the pot as well,
Let it cook for about 10 minutes, it’s starting to look like soup! 😉
While the soup is boiling away, peel the cassava (yuca) and cut into small bite sized pieces. If you want to use the quick route like me, buy frozen yuca, that works just as good as fresh yuca for this soup. If you use frozen yuca, just thaw it out for a few hours to make it easier to cut.
Set the yuca aside, now let’s peel the green bananas (guineitos). Cut the ends off,
Then pull the peel apart, using a knife if the peel is very stuck to the green banana,
Cut into bite sized pieces and add to the pot along with the yuca,
Take the remaining cilantro (about 1 cup), and add it to the pot. I use this nice trick that my friend taught me, tie the cilantro with a rubber band or cheese cloth, so you can pull it out in the end.
Nest the cilantro in the soup and let it hang out.
Now, peel and cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces. I usually leave the potatoes for last because they cook fast and fall apart if you add them in the pot too early in the cooking process.
When stirring your soup, do it gently so that the vegetables don’t break apart.
I usually get thin noodles (fideos) that are used for soups, but you may use any thin pasta and crush it as I do to have small noodles. Add them to the pot.
Give it one last stir, cover the pot and lower the heat to medium low. Let it hang out covered for 30 minutes. After uncovering, you will notice that the surface of the soup looks very dark has accumulated a good amount of excess fat from the beef. I highly recommend that you scoop out most of this fat to make the soup more tastier and heart friendly. 🙂
See how much extra fat I scooped out? There is about 2 cups of fat in this bowl.
To discard the fat, if you have a backyard just find a corner that is not used and let the ground absorb it (grease is biodegradable). Or if you have an empty bottle or jar, pour it in there to toss in the waste basket. I don’t recommend you pour this down the drain. If you do, pour it slowly and run the hot water faucet while you are discarding the grease.
See how much lighter and appetizing the soup looks now? You will never be able to remove all of the fat, but considering the amount of soup we have in this pot, this is not bad. 🙂
Take a fork and check to make sure the potatoes are fork tender (they should be), if they are not, just bring the heat up to medium and cover and let the soup simmer for 10 – 15 more minutes, then check again.
At this point, do a taste test and adjust seasoning (can add more salt, pepper if desired).
Don’t forget to remove the cilantro bunch since at this point it’s already mushy and done it’s part for the soup.
Put the heat on low and let the soup hang out until you’re ready to serve it. The longer it hangs out, the thicker and more flavorful it will get. I recommend you serve it with a nice side of white rice and some lime wedges. Yum! 🙂
Buen Provecho! 😉