March 4, 2009

Sopa Paraguaya

As I mentioned earlier, Fredy's mom invited us over this past Saturday to learn the art of Sopa Paraguaya. It's a very popular form of cornbread, but you DON'T call it bread (they thought I was crazy). After a time of terere and greetings, we got started with a bag of corn kernels. They were put through the grinder and came out the other end into a bag. We took the bag over to the table, poured a little bit at a time on top of screen like you'd find on a window, and sifted out the fine powder into a pile. The leftover parts that were too big to fall through the screen were set aside as chicken feed. (Warning to my dial-up readers: Many pictures included if you click below...)

Next, we started a blazing fire in the brick oven. Pretty much every family in the campo (rural "country" areas) has a brick oven. It's much smarter to cook outside in this heat! The fire was stoked and allowed to burn while we finished the food preparations.

A big bowl was used for mixing the ingredients, which included butter, the water that collects when you're making cheese (more about that later), some Paraguayan cheese, the corn flour we'd just sifted, and a few eggs. I was told that the amounts on this can all vary, according to what you have on hand. The cheese water (called suelo) was poured into a cup with large grains of salt and left there for a few minutes. Then the water was drained off the salt and added to the mixture, which was being stirred by hand (the girls really wanted to get their hands into that bowl!)

When it had been WELL-mixed, we poured it into the baking tins (greased with oil) and ooohed/aaahed over the pretty batter.

One of the sons removed all the limbs from the brick oven and raked it until nothing remained inside. I wondered if there'd be enough heat in there. It was a concrete floor, though, and it was quite difficult to get close enough to the heat to push the pans in, even though I was using a rake. Fredy remarked that this is why he didn't want to go to Hell.

The door was closed and all the cracks around it were stuffed with leaves and small branches. We took that time to play with the chickens and make some chipa (another popular bread).

After what seemed like about 15 minutes, we opened the door to find perfect Sopa. There are no pictures of us eating it because no one could be torn away from the warm fresh goodness to snap a photo. Trust me when I say it was delicious!!


  1. Wow! you started from grinding the corn! Good for you!

  2. I believe you! I´m sure the people there love that you are so interested in their traditional foods! They will try to put some kg´s on you... :)

  3. I actually prefer Chipa Guasu over Sopa (seems a little hard to swallow), but maybe I'm not making it right!


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