Sopita de Pasteles
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Sopita de Pasteles

Everything you love about pasteles in a sopita!

Dec 15, 2023

By Carolina Ginorio | @caroginorio_pr

In Puerto Rico, Christmas isn’t a day—it’s the fifth season. Las Navidades last from November 1st all the way to mid-January (or even later). And during this time, we get to gorge ourselves on the dishes that are, in my opinion, the shining stars of Puerto Rican cuisine. We’re talking tender pernil, vibrant arroz con gandules, and the crown jewel of Christmas dinner—pasteles. At its essence, a pastel has a saucy pork filling encased in a soft masa made from green bananas and other veggies. But the truth is, every family does it a little differently.

Sopita de pasteles in pot serving in a bowl
Just like Puerto Rico itself, the recipe is a child born of many cultures—with elements borrowed from Africa, from Spain, and from the indigenous Tainos. For the longest time no method was written down, but rather shared among communities and families via word of mouth, resulting in a diversity of recipes floating around the island that have diverged from each other and evolved over the centuries.

The traditional way of making pasteles involves shredding the vegetables for the masa by hand and wrapping each pastel in a banana leaf before boiling them in batches. Many Puerto Ricans grow up performing this ritual as a family, with all the tías and primos forming an assembly line to knock out this manual labor with the power of teamwork.

Putting Recaito in pot
But for those of us that aren’t always with our families this time of year, doing all of that work by yourself can be an exhausting (and honestly kind of depressing) chore. So one year, when November 1st hit and I found myself craving pasteles, I decided to try a different approach to those flavors.

Sopita de pasteles isn’t traditional, but to me it’s a perfect way to scratch that pasteles itch without spending hours in the kitchen. Start by blitzing the same vegetables that you would use for pasteles masa in a food processor until it has that classic mushy consistency. Add that to some warm chicken broth and the protein of your choice (I used chicken here, but you can use pork to get closer to that pasteles flavor) and you’re done!

Sprinkling sazón in food processor with vegetable blend
It’s like sopita de plátano with a Christmassy twist. It’s all the flavors and ingredients of pasteles but one fourth of the work. And for me, it’s the perfect meal for a cold or rainy December day, and the perfect cure to the Christmas blues when you’re missing home. Enjoy!