Tag Archives: Comfort Food

Cuban Chicken Soup with Plantain Dumplings


Recipe adapted from the cookbook
Cuba! Recipes and Stories from the Cuban Kitchen
by Dan Goldberg, Andrea Kuhn and Jody Eddy

The winter doldrums continue and there is nothing more perfect than a comforting bowl of chicken soup to warm your soul.

But wait!

This is not your grandmother’s chicken soup and dumpling recipe, unless you’re fortunate enough to have a Cuban grandmother. With its long simmering time and the addition of calabaza, a tiny orange-and-white squash, this is a wonderful way to warm up on a chilly day. The additional of Bijol, a traditional Cuban blend of ground achiote, cumin and corn flour, infuses the soup with a pleasant yellow color, but if you don’t have a Latin specialty market in the neighborhood, a pinch of turmeric makes a good substitute. The plantain dumplings are a lovely combination of sweet and savory, but they do not hold well. If you have leftover soup, the dumplings will completely disintegrate overnight. If you are not planning to eat all the soup in one dinner serving, add only enough dumplings to suit your hunger pangs, then freeze the soup without dumplings and whip them up whenever you are ready to dive into the leftovers.

And like every recipe, this soup has many variations throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. In Ecuador it is known as Caldo de Bolas and in Columbia, it is called  Sopa de Pollo y Platano Verde. Where as in Puerto Rico it takes on the name  Sopa De Pollo con Mofongo which is considered the Puerto Rican version of Matzah Ball Soup. Imagine that!

Serves 6 to 8

For the Soup:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts*
1 yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups calabaza squash, cut into 1-inch dice
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Bijol (optional)*
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the plantain dumplings:
2 ripe plantains, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 egg
1/4 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup rice flour

In a large pot over high heat, combine the chicken, onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.

Using tongs, remove the chicken from the pot and set aside to cool slightly. Using 2 fork, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces. Return the chicken to the pot and add the squash, tomatoes, cumin cinnamon and Bijol. Simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, make the dumplings: Place the plantains in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 teaspoons water and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave until very soft, about 2 minutes. (If you don’t have a microwave, place the plantains in a fry pan with 1/3 cup  water, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over medium heat until the plantains are soft, 12 to 15 minutes. NOTE: Do not use any more water than this or  the plantain’s sweetness will leach out into the water. Sprinkle the plantains with the salt and pepper and mash them with a fork until smooth. Add  egg, cornmeal and rice flour to the plantain mixture until a combined. Roll the mashed plantain into smooth balls about 1 inch in diameter.

Drop the plantain dumplings into the soup and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the parsley. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.

*Cook’s Notes:
Six to seven bone-in chicken thighs can be substituted for the chicken breast if you like more flavor to the soup.

If Bijol or tumeric are not readily available, Goya Sazon Culantro y Achiote® seasoning is available in most major supermarkets and grocery stores. With its combination of garlic, cumin, coriander seed, it can be the perfect seasoning for this soup, also giving a vibrant red orange color that is visually appealing.

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A Review: Dove’s Luncheonette

We swung by Dove’s Luncheonette recently.

Set to the sounds of 1960s and 1970s Chicago soul and blues, Dove’s Luncheonette offers counter service morning, noon and night in the heart of Chicago’s trendy Wicker Park neighborhood.

From the black-and-white vintage snapshots on the walls, the retro stools and the regulars who pack them, the place looks like it has been around for 40 years. There is even a jukebox at the establishment. So Retro! But Dove’s, in Chicago’s trendy Wicker  Park neighborhood, from only recently opened.

Partners including chef Paul Kahan, who gained national attention and a James Beard award for haute date-night dinners at his acclaimed Blackbird restaurant and Chef de Cuisine Dennis Bernard has an inviting menu delivers Southern-inspired Mexican cuisine, alongside a tequila and mezcal-focused bar program, with the spirit of genuine hospitality. The 41-stool luncheonette takes its name from Nelson Algren’s A Walk on the Wild Side, and draws inspiration from bygone diners and watering holes to create a place where people from all walks of life can converge over a cup of coffee, cocktail, and a great meal.

Kahan aims to marry the chef approach to everyday service, offering short-order dishes using seasonal, locally grown ingredients at the bargain end of the dining scale. A trip through the border region of Texas inspired Dove’s menu, which blends Southern and Mexican fare in dishes like buttermilk chicken fried with green chorizo gravy, smoked brisket tacos and a corn tamal with braised collard greens and scrambled eggs. Instead of weak coffee, the drinks menu touts tequila and mescal, with its signature Cantarito cocktail of tequila, fresh fruit juices and Squirt, served in a terra cotta ceramic mug. “Sometimes you want cerebral, beautiful food,” Kahan says, “and sometimes you want to hang out in your neighborhood diner.”

The Menu had a good mix of appetizers, main entrees, comfort foods and beverages that were reasonably priced.

 With that being said, My foodie partners in crime ordered the Chile Rellenos and the Red Enchiladas with a fried egg on top. You can get a fried egg to top any dish on the menu, for just an extra buck more. As you can see, the portions for each entree was more than generous!

Chile Rellenos
Red Enchiladas

I ordered the Chicken Fried Chicken. A dish that  smothers buttermilk soaked fried chicken in a green chile chorizo gravy garnished with sweet peas and white pearl onions. It lived up to the invitation, so naturally, I  am going to just have to try my hand at recreating the fried chicken  dish at home. I can’t wait to present the recipe to you!

Chicken Fried Chicken at Dove’s Luncheonette

It’s good to get out of the house to see what the rest of the world is eating, once in awhile.

If you are ever in Chicago, make sure to the take the time to stop by Dove’s Luncheonette. We were so glad we did!

Dove’s Luncheonette

Address: 1545 N. Damen Avenue Chicago, IL 60622
Phone:(773) 645-4060
Hours: Open today · 9:00 am – 10:00 pm
See the Menu at:  www.doveschicago.com