A while ago I shared with you all my friend’s Rosani recipe for Sopa Paraguaya, or Paraguayan Soup… which is really not a soup. Sopa Paraguaya is a sort of corn pudding made from cornmeal and cheese.
When I visited Paraguay earlier this year, the first thing I wanted to taste was a Sopa Paraguaya made in Paraguay by Paraguayans. I always want to taste how the original versions taste and how they compare to the versions we create at home. I told you once that what I call Sopa Paraguaya is called Chipaguazú over in Paraguay. Well, not exactly true…
There are two dishes made in Paraguay – Sopa Paraguaya and Chipaguazú. They are different from each other…
Thanks to my friend Ester… a whole crew went to her house one day to cook for the whole yoga group, but also to cook some soy and yuca fritters for a shelter of homeless boys and girls. She was gracious enough to cook to cook both Sopa Paraguaya and Chipaguazú side by side so that I could see firsthand how the recipes differ from each other.
They’re both made from corn… they’re both baked. That’s about where the similarities end.
- It’s made from cornmeal flour mixed for a long time with milk, butter, baking powder, salt and anise seeds. The anise seeds are particular to the Sopa Paraguaya recipe.
- This yields a very smooth batter that is poured into a baking dish lined with banana leaves. You pour only ½ the batter and add cooked onions, Paraguay cheese and butter beans. When you pour the second half of batter, the filling gets sandwiched in between.
- It’s made by grinding fresh corn kernels. These people usually grind them by hand. To the ground corn you add some milk, but not a lot, cooked onions and salt. No cheese!!!!
- The corn batter is poured into a baking dish lined with banana or plantain leaves.
We baked them using a wood burning oven… I know my friends from Serious Eats Water Cooler would go crazy over that oven… I was dying to make some cool pizzas there!!!! ;)
Here are both dishes after baking for about 30-45 minutes… Chipaguazú is at the left and the Sopa Paraguaya is on the right.
The verdict… as delicious as these traditional recipes are, the Sopa Paraguaya we make here in Puerto Rico is actually my favorite!!! Maybe because it’s a hybrid of these two recipes. We use cornmeal that we cook a bit over the stove, add cooked onions, corn kernels and grated cheese to the batter. And in my humble opinion, I prefer our hybrid version to any of the originals. I think we have taken what’s great about each and combine it into one great dish. I feel a bit like Tyler Florence with his TV show, Tyler’s Ultimate…
Even though Rosani now likes to now make Chipaguazú at the Yoga Center, I will continue to make our local version of Sopa Paraguaya because to me, it tastes THE BEST!!!!
Have you ever had traditional Sopa Paraguaya or Chipaguazú?? How does it compare to my original recipe???