IMG_2978Whenever I was helping my mom in the kitchen making a dish that contained ground beef, she would tell me, “Vas a picar bien menudito la carne.” She never bought ground beef, so we would have to make it in our own way. She said, ‘menudito,’ I knew exactly what she meant: small pieces, really small pieces. I would slice the meat thinly with the knife and then pound the meat with the stone on the batan (grinding stone) and then cut the pounded meat by hand.  This process adds amazing flavor to the food.

Serves 8


1 lb pork (boneless prime roast)

1 lb chicken breast

1/2 lb beef ( NY sirloin steak)

2 medium size onions minced really well

3 garlic cloves minced really well

2 large tomatoes

1/2 cup aji rojo (spicy red pepper sauce) (or 1 tbsp chilli powder and 2 tbsp paprika)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cumin

3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup chopped parsley

2 tsp oregano

6 cups chicken broth (any broth)

1 can hominy (1 lb can)

For the side:

slices of baguette

slices of lemon

slices of jalapeno (or locoto)



Using the large sized holes of a grader. Grade the 2 onions. We want them really in small pieces but not a paste.

Chop the parsley

Use a garlic press for the garlic cloves.

Boil water and add the tomatoes. Cook them for 2 min, no more than that. The skin will get loose.

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Cut the meat in tiny pieces by hand. This takes a little bit of time but it’s worth it and gives the menudito more body.


Heat the oil in large pot and add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 min and then add the aji rojo (spicy red pepper sauce).

Cook for another 5 min and add the cumin, parsley and oregano. Mix really well.


Add the pork and meat and salt. Cook for about 10 min or until the mix starts drying.


Add the 2 tomatoes that are peeled. When you add them crush them in your hand so it’s more like a puree. Cook for another 5 min.


Add the chicken and cook until the chicken changes color to a dark white. At this point add the 6 cups of broth.

Let it simmer for 20 min.


Add the hominy and let it boiled until the soup starts getting thick. (10 min). I used la Preferida is a 1 lb can if you have Goya used 2 cans.

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Serve hot with bread, green onion and hot pepper on the side and if you like, squeeze a wedge of lemon on top.

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Sopa de Te’qo (Semana Santa Vegetable soup)

Sopa de Te’qo (Semana Santa Vegetable Soup)


Semana Santa is one of my favorite times in Bolivia, we cook and eat a lot surrounded by family. I have loved this soup since I can remember and I love everything about it. My favorite part of this dish’s preparation is the egg part. I remember starring at my mom making miniscule cracks in the top of the egg and pouring into the soup. After that she gave us the empty eggshells to play with. This an easy quick soup to make and has so much flavor, the tricky part is the preparation of the potatoes but it’s so much fun. It’s so delicious, enjoy it!

Makes: 8 portions


10 cups of Water or Broth

1 cup thinly cut Achojacha (This is a Bolivian ingredient that you can skip if unavailable)

5 leaves of yerbabuena (This is a Bolivian ingredient that you can skip if unavailable)

1/4 cup diced green pepper

1 small onion diced in small pieces (1/2 cup)

1 small peeled and diced tomato

1 cup carrots cut in thin strips

2 cups sliced green beans

2 tbs canola oil

1 tsp salt

1 large clove garlic

1/4 tsp cumin

5 large potatoes peeled and diced

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 cup thinly cut spinach

2 eggs

2 tbs scallion thinly cut and washed

2 tbs cut parsley

2 tbs cut cilantro

1 tsp oregano


Put together the ingredients


Peel and cut the potatoes in eight pieces.  Crush the potatoes pieces on a cutting board with a meat softener until they are small chunky pieces. They should still be in pieces but be cracked open. Put the pieces of potatoes in a bowl with water and reserve.

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Cut the vegetables as shown in the pictures. Pepper, onion and tomato are diced, carrots and achojcha are cut crosswise and beans are cut diagonally.


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Mix all the the cut vegetables together. Put the water to boil.

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Cook the vegetables in oil and add the salt. Cook until tender for about 5 min.


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Add this mixture to the boiling water. Grind together the garlic and cumin and add to the soup. Simmer the soup for 15 min. Remove any foam that might form.

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Remove the potatoes from the water and add to the soup. Is very important to save the water where the potatoes have been sitting. The potato starch is at the bottom of the bowl and will be used to thicken our soup.

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Slowly drain the water and save the starch at the bottom and add it to the soup. This step is very important to make your soup nice and thick.


Cook the potaoes for 10 min and add the peas and spinach.

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Reduce the heat. Turn on the stove. Crack the top of the eggs and pour them into the soup, you have to shake the egg while your pour it in and stir the soup at the same time (a second person can help here). Turn off the stove



Chop and wash the scallions.
Add to the soup and mix. Crush oregano in your hands and add to the soup

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Cut the parsley and cilantro and top each plate before serving

This soup is healthy and delicious, I love everything about this soup! In bolivia we have el batan and we use this flat stone to crush the potaoes. I miss some tools from Bolivia and the Batan is one of them. Enjoy!

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Fricase Paceño Boliviano

Fricase Paceño


What I remember about this dish growing up was that every place that was organizing a New Year’s eve party offered Fricase paceno para recibir el alba on the menu. Of course, I didn’t understand why this was a special on the menu at 5 am in the morning on New Year’s eve! But when I was old enough that my parents let me go to a party with friends, I realized how important it is to have a nice spicy soup to keep you awake to receive the New Year with good energy. So I now understand why fricase is so important. I love this dish for the flavor and how simple it is. You don’t have to eat it at 5 or 6 am in the morning to enjoy!

Serves 4


2 lb pork (ribs or porkchop)

1/2 cup aji amarillo yellow sauce

12 black or white Chuño (usually you use the black ones) 3 per person (chuño is freeze-dried potato, if unavailable, rather than substituting for potatoes I’d just leave them out)

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1 can hominy (Mote blanco)

5 garlic

1 tsp cumin

1 tbs dry oregano


4 cups of water or broth

Get the ingredients ready. Chuño is soaked in water a night ahead, clean the extra skin if necessary.


Cut the pork into 8 large pieces, two per person. Rub the aji amarillo into the pork.


Meanwhile in a large pot heat the water or broth. Once is hot (but not boiling) add the pork, garlic, salt, cumin and let it simmer for an hour an a half.

While the meat is cooking, cook the Chuño in a separate pot. It’s cooked after 20 min or tender with a knife. Set aside.

Once the pork is tender after one hour and a half, add the oregano and bread crumbs. Let it simmer for 10 min. Add the Chuño and hominy or mote blanco (I like doing it this way).

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Usually in Bolivia they put the chuño and the mote blanco in the soup bowl first and they add the meat and the fricase soup on top. I love cooking the mote blanco and chuño in the soup a little bit so they absorb the flavor.

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The best way to enjoy this is early in the morning usually Saturday after a long night partying! There’s nothing better to go with this than a crispy  marraqueta (Bolivian version of a baguette) to soak the juices in your bread and a good llajwa (spicy salsa).


Sopa de Mani (Bolivian Peanut soup)

Sopa de mani

My friend Lindsay is a professional cook and a great writer. She asked me to cook  a Bolivian recipe for an article in the Portland Phoenix. The first thing that came to my mind was Sopa de Mani. In Bolivia when I was growing up, we would only have it on special occasions, and what a better occasion than to have a lunch with my friend? Unfortunately (or luckily), it was a hot summer day. But we ended up enjoying it anyway. Today, Maine is still cold with some snow in the ground, so I thought about posting this recipe to warm us with a soup that tastes great with a Marraqueta (Bolivian version of a Baguette). Enjoy!
As Rommy Holman, from Cochabamba, Bolivia, taught to Lindsey Sterling for the Portland Phoenix in Cumberland, Maine, June 2011.
Serves 8
Cooking Time: 2-3 hours.
1 Tbsp salt

4 beef ribs or bone-in cut of beef 1 small red onion

2 small carrots
1/2 green pepper, medium dice
1/4 red bell pepper, medium dice
10 green beans, sliced diagonally across for long, thin ovals
1/2 pound skinless raw peanuts (they’re not tan or brown, they’re cream-colored and may be called blanched)
4 Yukon potatoes
1/2 cup white rice
1 big clove garlic
1/2 tsp powdered cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
handful fresh cilantro
handful fresh parsley
small bunch fresh celery leaves
1/4 cup peas
crusty bread
llajua (a fresh hot sauce condiment)
1 tomato
1 jalepeno
small handful cilantro
1 tsp dried oregano
Fill soup pot 2/3 full of water, add 1 Tbsp salt and beef. Bring to boil and simmer for 1 hour or two (longer for the tougher cuts of meat). Keep a lid on to keep broth from evaporating too much. As the soup simmers, skim any fat and foam that rise to the top of the soup with a big flat spoon into a small bowl for easy discarding.
While the meat broth is brewing, cut your veggies. cut carrots lengthwise into 1/4″ thick planks and then crosswise into 1/4″ strips. Dice green and red pepper and onion. And cut the green beans on the diagonal to make thin long ovals. Put the veggies in the soup pot.

Make a raw peanut puree by blending the peanuts in a blender with about a cup of water until you have what looks like almost melting vanilla ice cream. After the meat has cooked for at least an hour, add the peanut puree so the soup turns white with a creamy top surface.
Continue cooking for an hour. I wouldn’t fudge that particular cooking time because Rommy said, “Raw peanuts need to be cooked an hour at least or it makes the tummy ache. That’s what my mom says.” An hour then! Stir occasionally so peanut particles don’t burn on the bottom. As this cooks, go ahead and do the following.
Mash garlic and 1/4 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp cumin (and a little salt to aid the grinding) in a mortar and pestle. Don’t forget to smell this because it’s VERY satisfying. Add to soup.
Now it’s time to prep for the soup garnishes.

Make a bowl of fresh feathery herbs by gathering a tight bouquet of parsley and cilantro (she’d also use quilquina if she were home) and cutting across them toward your thumb with a paring knife. Fry potato strips.
Make fried potato strips by slicing potatoes across into round slices, and then slicing across the the slices to make thin strips. Covered with water (to keep from turning brown) until soup is almost done.

Strain potato strips. Pat dry with paper towels. Heat a half-inch of oil in a frying pan on medium high. Get a plate with paper towel over it ready for drying the fries. Test one strip in the oil. You want it to bubble vigorously. If it doesn’t, let the oil get hotter before adding potatoes. They’ll come out soggy if you add them to not-hot-enough oil. If the oil is smoking – it’s too hot. The fried potato strips are done when they’re golden brown; remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs and put them on paper towels to dry. Salt them.
Make homemade hotsauce, called llajua, by pulsing in the the blender ever so slowly fresh jalapenoes, tomatoes, and fresh cilantro (again, she’d use quilquina at home). Her mother would make it on a traditional tool, a rectangular mortar and pestle called a batan. Avoid putting the blender on full blast – it makes the hot sauce foamy, which is not authentic! Serve in dishes on table for individuals to spoon into soup as they like.
After the peanuts have simmered with the soup about an hour, add a cup of rice. After rice has cooked for about ten minutes, use cooking twine to tie a bouquet of celery leaves and parsley leaves and steep bouquet in the soup. Take meat out of the pot. Pull meat off bone, discard bone, and put meat back in soup.
When the rice in the soup is cooked, add peas and sprinkle dried oregano over top. Now taste the soup. Add salt so that it tastes the best it can be. Serve soup in shallow bowls, sprinkle fried potatoes in the center of each bowl and fresh herbs all over top. Serve with chunks of baguette and the llajua on the table.
Yo can freeze this soup and taste delicious every time!

Photos by Lindsay Sterling and Yulia Converse.

Chan’ka de Pollo

Chan’ka de Pollo



This is one of my favorites soups, my mom will make it when I was  feeling  a little bit sick, usually has Chuño and Fava beans instead of peas, but it works great with green peas. Enjoy ! Disfrutenlo!




Serves 4

4 Free range chicken legs
4 Large potato peeled
½ Cup fresh or frozen peas
1 Large Green onion  we will use the white and green part.
4 Cups of water or Chicken broth.

Cooking Instructions:

Get ready the ingredientes:

Put the 4 cups of water to boiled add the chicken salt some pepper and the white part of the green onion chopped. Let it cooked for about 15 min and add the peeled potatos and cook until they are soft.

Meanwhile Chopped the green part of the green onion:

Add the chopped green onions and the frozen peas to the soup and turn off the stove. Let it cool for about 10 min serve warm with one chicken leg one potato and some green onions and peas on the top. This delicious soups goes really well with a spicy Lllajua.