Porotos Con Riendas (Chilean Bean and Pumpkin Soup)
I came across this recipe here last year while looking for ways to use pumpkins. I was instantly intrigued – not only because it came from Chile, a country whose cuisine I am completely unfamiliar with, but also because of the unusual combination of ingredients – pumpkin, beans, AND spaghetti? Plus, the thought of paprika and oregano just got my mouth watering, so I decided I had to try it.
The unusual combination of ingredients is also a window into the history of the region. Beans and pumpkin are staples of the Mapuche, an indigenous people from Southern Chile, and the use of pasta and love of soup comes from European immigrants. The soup most likely dates back to the mid 19th century, when the newly arrived settlers adapted their culinary traditions to the local ingredients.
I have an uncle living in Chile, so I emailed him to ask if he had ever had Porotos con Riendas”. His reply, “Yes, great soup for a winter’s nights meal, with sausages in it.” The original recipe I found was a vegetarian version, but it did mention that you could add sausage. Being a fan of the meat myself, I decided to make the version with sausage. Glad I did too – the soup was delicious – hearty, warm, filling and very unique.
About a week ago, the cold started getting to me, and I remembered the Porotos con Riendas. So I dug out the recipe, and this time looked at it through a nutritionist’s lens. It passed with flying colors – this is a soup that is loaded with stuff your body wants and needs. It is packed with protein, fiber and has a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals. Butternut squash is an good source of Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium, and many of the B Vitamins. It also has Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium and magnesium. The carrots, garlic and onions add even more vitamins and minerals to keep you strong on those cold winter nights. Unfortunately some of the B and C vitamins are destroyed during the cooking process, but the other vitamins and minerals will still be preserved.
Without further ado, here is my adapted version of Porotos con Riendas. If you want a vegetarian version, just leave out the meat and use veggie broth instead.
Porotos con Riendas
- 1 1/2 cups dried white beans (Great Northern or Cannellini)
- 1 1/2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 bullion cube, chicken, beef or vegetable
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 lb kielbasa, andouille or other smoked sausage, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp dried chili flakes (optional, if you like a more spicy stew)
- 1/4 lb whole wheat spaghetti, broken in half
- salt to taste
- Place beans in a large bowl and cover with plenty of water. Soak overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
- Drain beans and put in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the beans. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 1 hour, or until beans are almost done. (cooking time will vary depending on the size of the beans you use.) Add water during cooking if needed; beans should always be covered.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add sausage, onion, garlic, carrot, oregano and paprika, and saute for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- When the beans are almost done, add the squash and the bullion cube. Add more water if needed. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add spaghetti to the pot and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the spaghetti is nearly done.
- Add sauteed onion mixture to the pot. Stir well and salt to taste. Serve with crusty bread or brown rice.
TIME SAVER’S TIPS
- You can use canned beans instead of dried. If you do, simmer pumpkin alone in broth for 5 minutes, then add spaghetti and cook for 8-10 minutes, then add beans.
- Most stores carry pre-cut butternut squash. This saves a ton of time!