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    Asopao de Pollo (Chicken & Rice Stew)

    Asopao de Pollo: Is it a stew or soup or gumbo?? Well, it is all and some more. This classic chicken and rice is one of the most comforting dishes for many in the Caribbean.

    Asopao de Pollo, a classic Puerto Rican and Dominican dish, is a hearty and comforting stew that combines tender, fall off the bone chicken with the wholesomeness of rice and vegetables.

    With winter in full swing, if you’re looking for that one ultimate dish to warm up with your loved ones, this is it. The ultimate BOMB of chicken and rice soup!!

    Try our Asopao de Pollo, a stew with tender chicken, rice, and vegetables. It's a traditional Caribbean dish, perfect for colder days.

    There are a few recipes from entirely different cultures than ours that we are so proud to have perfected in our kitchen. Our Sunday Gravy, Birria Tacos, Kleftiko and Coq au Vin are a few that give you just the right flavors.

    Now we are absolute fans of Puerto Rican food, and discovered that typical island taste you can achieve with their herbs and seasonings like sofrito, sazon, and adobo. Our Sancocho and Carne Guisada are loaded with those amazing delicious flavors.

    Today’s Asopao de Pollo is very similar to the Asopao de Camarones we cooked some time back with shrimp. Make this recipe tonight, and see why it brings instant smiles to so many locals down in the islands.

    Why We are Big Fans

    • Comfort Food: This dish is the epitome of comfort food. The warm, savory broth combined with tender chicken and rice creates a soothing and satisfying meal that’s perfect for any day, especially colder or rainy days.
    • Rich Flavors: The combination of spices like adobo, oregano, and cumin, along with the sofrito base, infuses the dish with layers of rich, complex flavors. The Sazon adds a unique Caribbean twist that tantalizes the taste buds.
    • Versatility: Asopao can be easily customized. You can swap out vegetables, or even change the type of protein. This flexibility makes it appealing to a wide range of palates.
    • One-Pot Meal: The simplicity of using just one pot makes both cooking and cleanup easier.
    • Nostalgia and Tradition: For those with Caribbean roots, this dish often holds nostalgic value, reminding them of family gatherings and cultural heritage.
    • Nutritious and Filling: Loaded with protein from the chicken, vitamins and minerals from the vegetables, and carbohydrates from the rice, it’s a balanced and hearty meal that can be enjoyed guilt-free.
    Bowl of Puerto Rican chicken and rice soup garnished with sliced avocado and fried plantains.

    What is Asopao?

    Asopao is a traditional dish popular in Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean. It’s essentially a cross between a soup and a stew, often described as a hearty and richly flavored rice soup. The name “asopao” itself translates roughly to “soupy rice” in English.

    The dish typically features rice and a protein, such as chicken, pork, seafood, or a combination thereof. Chicken is especially popular, leading to the widespread favorite, Asopao de Pollo.

    Asopao is well-known for its robust and aromatic flavors. It often includes a sofrito base, a blend of herbs and spices foundational in Caribbean cooking. Ingredients like garlic, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and a mix of herbs and spices like cilantro, culantro, and oregano are common.

    The consistency of asopao is somewhere between a thick soup and a wet risotto. It’s more liquid than a traditional stew but heartier and more substantial than a typical soup. It can be adapted to include whatever meats or seafood are on hand, and vegetables can be varied according to preference.

    Asopao is not just a meal, it’s a part of cultural gatherings and celebrations in Puerto Rico. It’s often served at large family gatherings, parties, and special occasions, symbolizing warmth, hospitality, and communal dining.

    Large dutch oven full of asopao.

    Ingredient Notes

    • Bone-in Chicken (Thighs and Drumsticks): The bones add depth and richness to the broth. Chicken thighs and drumsticks are ideal as they remain tender and flavorful during cooking.
    • Olive Oil: Used for sautéing.
    • Adobo Seasoning or Salt: Adobo is salt with a few flavorings. It adds a rich, savory flavor, while salt is essential for enhancing all the other flavors in the dish. Just use it keeping in mind that they both add salty elements to the dish.
    • Oregano: We are using dried, but if you have fresh you can use triple the amaount compared to dried.
    • Cumin: Adds a warm, earthy spice, and pairs well with the other flavors in the dish.
    • Pepper: Preferable freshly ground.
    • Diced Ham: Adds a smoky, savory element to the base of the stew. Not entirely necessary, but we like it there.
    • Onion, Red and Green Bell Peppers: These veggies add a sweet and aromatic flavor.
    • Carrot and Celery: They add texture and subtle sweetness.
    • Garlic: Freshly diced.
    • Sofrito: A flavorful blend of herbs and spices that’s key in Caribbean cooking, adding a robust flavor. Use our Homemade Sofrito, as it does make a huge difference in flavor compared to store bought. Saying that, in a pinch you can buy store brand.
    • Tomato Sauce: Adds a tangy, rich base to the stew.
    • Cilantro and Culantro: These herbs add a fresh, citrusy, and slightly peppery taste.
    • Sazon Goya with Culantro and Achiote: A pre-made seasoning that brings a unique Caribbean flavor and color to the dish.
    • Corn on the Cob and Potato: They add heartiness to the stew.
    • Medium Grain Rice: Absorbs the flavors of the stew and thickens it.
    • Frozen Peas: Add a pop of color and a slight sweetness.

    Asopao de Pollo Recipe

    Marinate Chicken: Season chicken with olive oil, adobo (or salt), oregano, cumin, and pepper. Set aside.

    Cook Ham & Chicken: In a large pot, sauté diced ham until browned. Remove and set aside. In the same pot, sear the chicken on both sides, then remove to a plate.

    Browned chicken thighs and drumsticks on a white plate.

    Sauté Vegetables & Add Spices: In the same pot, sauté onions, bell peppers, carrots, and celery. Add garlic and sofrito, cooking briefly. Stir in tomato sauce, adobo, oregano, and Sazon.

    Diced vegetables in a blue dutch oven.

    Combine & Simmer: Return ham and chicken to the pot. Add water, cilantro, and culantro. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. While it cooks, take a look through our roundup of favorite Caribbean recipes for more inspiration.

    Soup pot with water and herbs added in.

    Add Remaining Ingredients: Add corn and potatoes and cook for 10 minutes.

    Adding in the potatoes and corn.

    Add rice to the pot. Cook until the rice is done, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the last 10 minutes, add frozen peas. Adjust seasoning.

    Final product, after cooking.

    Serve: Serve the asopao hot, accompanied by your choice of sides like tostones, lime, and avocado.

    Possible Variations

    Different Proteins: Replace chicken with other proteins like shrimp, pork, beef, or a mix of seafood for a different flavor profile. For a vegetarian version, use a variety of vegetables like zucchini, squash, and mushrooms, and replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth.

    Spice Level Adjustment: If you like a bit of heat, add chopped jalapeños, cayenne pepper, or a dash of hot sauce.

    Herb Variations: Experiment with different herbs like parsley, basil, or thyme for a change in the flavor profile.

    Low-Carb Version: For a lower carbohydrate option, reduce the amount of rice or replace it with a low-carb alternative like cauliflower rice.

    Add Green Olives: It’s great when adding green olives to Puerto Rican stews. Add about 10-12 olives around the time you put in the potatoes. Our favorite variation.

    Bowl of asopao with the addition of green olives.

    Alpana’s Tips

    • Brown the Chicken Well: When searing the chicken, make sure it gets a good, golden-brown crust. This caramelization adds a rich depth of flavor to the dish.
    • Use Homemade Sofrito: If you can, make your own sofrito. Homemade sofrito has a brighter, more vibrant flavor than store-bought versions.
    • Low and Slow Cooking: Simmer the stew over low heat to allow the flavors to meld together and the chicken to become tender.
    • Rice Consistency: Keep an eye on the rice as it cooks. The goal is for the rice to be tender but not mushy. It should absorb the flavors of the broth without becoming too thick.
    • Adjust Liquids: In Puerto Rico you’ll find a range of consistencies from a soup to and almost jambalaya-like thickness. If you like it thinner, add more water or broth. If it’s too thin, let it cook uncovered for a bit longer.
    • Rest Before Serving: Let the asopao rest for a few minutes off the heat before serving. This allows the flavors to settle.
    • Taste and Adjust Seasoning: Before serving, taste the asopao and adjust the seasoning as needed. Sometimes a little extra salt, pepper, or a squeeze of lime can make all the difference.

    Serving Suggestions

    Asopao de Pollo is a hearty and flavorful dish that can be enjoyed on its own, but pairing it with the right sides can elevate the meal.

    • Tostones (Fried Plantains): These crispy and slightly salty treats are a classic in Caribbean cuisine, and are a very traditional side for asopao.
    • Avocado Slices: Fresh avocado adds a creamy element that complements the rich flavors of the asopao.
    • Lime Wedges: A squeeze of lime juice can brighten up the dish, adding a touch of acidity and freshness.
    • Salad: A light, crisp green salad with a tangy vinaigrette can balance the heartiness of the asopao.
    • Bread or Arepas: A side of crusty bread or arepas can be perfect for soaking up the flavorful broth.

    Storing and Leftovers

    Like any other stew or soup, this Puerto Rican chicken and rice stew is great the next day. Store leftovers in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. 

    This also freezes very well. Store in an air tight container and freeze for up to 3 months. 

    You can reheat it in the microwave or on the stove top until heated through. You may wish to add a dash of water or chicken broth to the stew when reheating, as it will have thickened up quite a bit.

    Bowl of Puerto Rican chicken and rice soup garnished with sliced avocado and fried plantains.

    There you go, whether you’re cooking for a cozy family dinner or a larger gathering, Asopao de Pollo promises to be the star, warming hearts and satisfying appetites.

    Paired with the perfect sides like crispy tostones and fresh avocado, it transforms into a complete, memorable meal. So gather your sofrito, sazon and adobo, and let your kitchen be filled with the aromas of the Caribbean. Get ready to enjoy a dish that’s sure to become a favorite.

    Asopao de Pollo, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    Bowl of asopao atop the Gypsy Plate.

    More great chicken stew recipes:
    Pollo Guisado
    Chicken Chasseur
    Chicken Provencal
    Chicken Caldereta
    Fricase de Pollo
    Chicken Paprikash
    Chicken Tagine

    Featured image for asopao de pollo recipe.

    Asopao de Pollo (Chicken & Rice Stew)

    Yield: 6-8 servings
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
    Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

    Try our Asopao de Pollo, a stew with tender chicken, rice, and vegetables. It's a traditional Caribbean dish, perfect for colder days.

    Ingredients

    Seasoning chicken

    • 2.5 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed (4 thighs and 3 drumsticks)
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tsp adobo or salt
    • 1 tsp oregano
    • ½ tsp cumin
    • ½ tsp pepper

    Asopao de Pollo

    • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
    • ½ cup ham, diced
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
    • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
    • 1 large carrot, cut into chunks
    • 2 celery, diced
    • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 4 Tbsp sofrito
    • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
    • cilantro, handful
    • 2 culantro sprigs, cut into chunks
    • 1 tsp oregano
    • adobo to taste
    • salt to taste
    • 1 Sazon Goya con culantro y achiote packet
    • 6-7 cups water (see note 1)
    • 5-6 small pieces of corn on the cob
    • 1 large potato, cut into chunks
    • 1 cup medium grain rice
    • ½ cup frozen peas

    Instructions

    1. Season chicken with all the seasoning ingredients and let it sit while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
    2. Heat olive oil in large soup pot or dutch oven on medium-high heat and sauté diced ham till it starts to brown. Plate it out.
    3. In the same pot, sear the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side, or until light brown. Plate it out.
    4. Now add dash of oil if needed and sauté diced onion, bell peppers, celery, and carrots for 3-4 minutes. Add in chopped garlic and sofrito, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, adobo, oregano and sazon. Mix well.
    5. Add ham and chicken back to the pot, mix well, and cook for 5 minutes. Add water, cilantro, and culantro and bring it to a boil.
    6. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    7. Add corn and potatoes and continue cooking. 10 minutes after adding corn and potatoes, stir in rice. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until rice is fully cooked. Keep stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom. In the last 10 minutes of cooking time, add in the peas. Taste and adjust for salt and adobo.
    8. Serve with tostones, lime and sliced avocado.

    Notes

    1. For a soupier version, you can add up to 8 cups of water. This soup will absorb liquid as it sits, so when reheating leftovers you can add chicken stock or water to make it soupier.

    Nutrition Information
    Yield 8 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 479Total Fat 26gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 18gCholesterol 187mgSodium 782mgCarbohydrates 25gFiber 4gSugar 5gProtein 40g

    Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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