Asopao de Pollo recipe by Chef Maria Mercedes Grubb

Nutritional values (in one serving)
805 Calorie
53 g Thick
51 g Carbohydrates
45 g Protein

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Nutritional values
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calorie 805
% Daily Value*
53 g 68%
Saturated fatty acids 17g 83%
203 mg 68%
2504 mg 109%
51 g 19%
Dietary fiber 13g 45%
Total sugars 16g
45 g
Vitamin C 137 mg 683%
Calcium 180 mg 14%
Iron 6 mg 35%
Potassium 1603 mg 34%
*% Daily Value (DV) tells you how much of a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to your daily diet. 2000 calories per day is used for general nutritional guidance.

(Nutritional information is calculated using the ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

My name is Maria Mercedes Grubb and I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My parents were part of the huge wave of Dominicans who moved to the island in the 1970s. My grandmother had a food stand in a small town in the Dominican Republic and my parents made a living with a hot dog cart in our hood. So I am a third generation chef.

I moved to NYC after high school and fell in love with food, new foods, not just Caribbean cuisine. I attended the French Culinary Institute – now the International Culinary Center – and worked for high-end restaurants like The Modern and Pastis.

I moved back to Puerto Rico because my son was diagnosed with severe autism and my grueling double shifts were too much for my husband to handle alone. My family is in Puerto Rico.

I started a supper club with my brother called the Underground Dining Club. It progressed to a restaurant called Gallo Negro. We had years of success and awards, but it was very difficult for us to recover from Hurricane Maria and we closed in December 2020. Since then I’ve been doing consulting, pop-ups and private chefs.

What is Asopao de Pollo?

Asopao de pollo is a Caribbean dish that consists of our sofrito, rice, annatto and/or tomato puree and chunks of chicken. It’s the ultimate comfort food, one of those you whip out on a rainy day or after a hurricane. Although this could be considered an easy preparation, it is one of those where people argue over who has the best version. It can be a little blurry for me because my mom has a few differences because of her Dominican versus Puerto Rican influence.

What makes Asopao de Pollo unique

My asopao differs from most regular versions down to the sofrito base. Every home has its own way of preparation and mine is influenced by my Dominican heritage. Other ingredients in my recipe, like saffron and harissa, are influenced by my time in New York kitchens, where I learned so much about international ingredients.

Harissa feels like a great substitute for tomato puree and it’s a delicious twist. It gives the dish a sense of depth. I suggest harissa on the milder side of the spectrum. Believe it or not, most boricuas are not into spicy food. Lately I’ve really been loving NY Shuk’s Preserved Lemon Harissa.

How to serve Asopao de Pollo

Serve asopao de pollo with a slice of avocado and tostones made from green bananas or breadfruit. A bottle of pique, or Puerto Rican hot sauce made from vinegar and spicy chili peppers, should not be missing from the table. This soup goes very well with light beer. Or if you’re “fantastic” as my mom accuses me of being, a glass of godello wine will do the trick.

“All I can say is WOW! This soup was incredibly delicious. I especially loved how the green plantains made simple but perfect dumplings! The saffron, coconut milk and harissa paste lent deep and rich flavors. The lime lent a bright note to the soup , while the avocado added creaminess. I will definitely make this again.” – Diana Andrews

For the chicken stock:

  • 2 pounds boning Chicken Thighs

  • 1 medium onionpeeled and quartered

  • 1 medium lemonin half

  • 5 clove garlicbroken

  • 2 soup spoon coriander seed

  • 2 dried bay leaves

  • 4 tarragon or parsley stems

  • 5 culantro leaves (recao) or stems from 1 bunch coriander

  • 12 cups chicken broth

For Sofrito:

  • 6 culantro leaves (recao) or stems from 1 the middle bunch fresh cilantro

  • 5 deployed bye dulce peppers, or mini sweet peppers

  • 1/2 medium deployed Cubanelle pepper

  • 5 clove garlic

  • 1/2 medium celery stalks

  • 2 soup spoon vegetable oil

  • 1/2 a tea spoon dried oregano

For Asopao:

  • 2 soup spoon coconut oil

  • 3 clove garlicmilled

  • 1 a tea spoon fine harissa paste

  • 5 saffron threads

  • 1 a tea spoon Diamond crystal kosher saltmore as needed

  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk

  • 1 medium plantain green

  • 1/2 a tea spoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 a tea spoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 cup rough long grain white rice

  • 2 medium spring onionsthin slices

For decoration:

  • 1 big avocadothin slices

  • Lime wedges

  • Tarragon and/or coriander leavesoptional

  • Olive oil, for drizzle

Note: Although this recipe contains several steps, this Asopao de Pollo is divided into functional categories to help you better plan your preparation.

Prepare the chicken stock

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Cut the bones off the chicken thighs and add them to a large Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot. If the chicken thighs have skin, remove and discard or save for another purpose.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Add the onion, lemon, garlic, cilantro, bay leaf, tarragon or parsley sprigs, cilantro, and chicken stock to the pot with the chicken bones. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Strain the broth through a fine sieve, discarding the contents of the sieve. Set the broth aside.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

Make the Sofrito

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Add the culantro (or cilantro stalks), ají dulce peppers, Cubanelle pepper, garlic, celery, oil, and oregano to a blender or food processor.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Pulse and then process on high until the ingredients are dissolved. Set aside.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

Do Asopao

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Add the coconut oil to a large Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, harissa, saffron, salt and sofrito. Saute, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to soften and become fragrant, about 2 minutes.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Add the reserved chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Add the coconut milk and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Add the reserved chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to minimum and cook the plantain dumplings (bolitas) covered.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Remove and discard the peel from the plantain. Cut the plantain into 3 to 4 large crosswise pieces. Transfer to a food processor with 1/2 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, and pepper.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Pulse and then process the plantain mixture, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until a smooth paste forms. Alternatively, grate the plantains on the small holes of a grater or with a micro planer.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  8. With wet hands, form dumplings about 1 inch in diameter. Transfer the dumplings to the soup. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook, uncovered, gently stirring occasionally, until the dumplings float to the surface. Continue cooking until the dumplings begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  9. Add the rice and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the rice and bolitas are tender, another 15 to 20 minutes. Season the soup with salt to taste.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  10. Stir in the onions and continue to cook until they begin to soften, about 1 minute more.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

  11. Divide the soup into bowls, garnish as desired and serve.

    Spruce eats / Diana Chistruga

Recipe tip

If you’ve never deboned chicken thighs before, don’t worry! The process is actually quite easy.

Make Ahead

  • Chicken broth can be prepared up to 5 days in advance.
  • Sofrito can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. If it sits much longer, its fresh taste will begin to deteriorate.

Recipe variations

Cubanelle and aji dulce are an important part of Caribbean sofrito. However, you can substitute a mixture of hot and sweet peppers such as poblano, jalapeño, and paprika. Let your taste buds and imagination flow!

How to store

Refrigerate leftover asopao in airtight containers for up to 5 days.

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