Asopao de Gandules

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Step into the vibrant world of Puerto Rican cuisine with Asopao de Gandules! This tasty dish, loaded with gandules (pigeon peas), a medley of fresh veggies, and aromatic herbs, is a delightful culinary adventure. If you're looking for a hearty and delicious meal, then look no further than Asopao de Gandules! This traditional Puerto Rican dish is a favorite among many families. Its warm and comforting flavors are perfect for any occasion.

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What is Asopao de Gandules?

Asopao de Gandules is a hearty stew that combines the unique flavors of gandules with other ingredients such as rice, meat, legumes, and sometimes even shrimp. The recipe can vary but often includes diced onion, ají dulce, and other spices to enhance the flavor. The stew is usually served with plantain dumplings, adding another layer of texture and taste to the meal. Asopao de Gandules is a delight for the taste buds and offers nutritional benefits, making it a popular choice for a main course.

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What is the History of Asopao de Gandules?

Asopao de Gandules is a special dish that originally comes from Puerto Rico. It's a tasty stew made with gandules, also known as pigeon peas. These peas have been a big part of Puerto Rican food for hundreds of years. They were first brought to the area by African slaves when Spain was in charge of the region.

The creation of Asopao de Gandules involved the fusion of these pigeon peas with rice, various meats or seafood, and a rich blend of spices, resulting in a hearty and satisfying dish. Each family had its unique recipe, often passed down through generations, making this dish a representation of familial heritage and cultural identity.

Historically, Asopao de Gandules was prepared in large quantities, intended to feed whole families and even entire communities during festivals and celebrations. It's more than just a dish – it's a symbol of Puerto Rican unity, hospitality, and the joy of shared meals. So when you're cooking Asopao de Gandules, you're not just preparing a meal, but participating in a vibrant, time-honored culinary tradition.

Ingredients in Making Asopao de Gandules

What are the ingredients needed to make Asopao de Gandules?

This recipe can be prepared in 10 minutes. The cooking time is 40 minutes. The following are the ingredients you are going to need for 4-6 servings:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil – provides a flavorful base and ensures even cooking.
  • Gandules, fresh or frozen  – the star ingredients that lend their distinct flavor and texture to the dish.
  • Onion, finely diced –  adds a sweet and savory depth of flavor.
  • Red bell pepper, diced – contributes a slight sweetness and vibrant color.
  • Garlic, chopped – infuses the dish with its aromatic and robust flavor.
  • Tomato paste – thickens the broth and enhances the rich tomato undertones.
  • Oregano – introduces a hint of earthy and minty flavors.
  • Cumin – adds a warm, spicy taste that complements the other ingredients.
  • Red pepper flakes – provide a kick of heat to balance out the flavors.
  • Diced tomatoes – offer a fresh, tangy element to the dish.
  • Low-sodium vegetable broth, divided – divided, forms the soup base, adding depth without making it overly salty.
  • Chopped fresh oregano – brings an additional layer of earthiness and freshness.
  • Salt – intensifies all the other flavors in the dish.
  • Ground pepper – adds a subtle heat and complexity to the asopao.
  • Fresh cilantro – gives a burst of freshness and color, rounding off beautifully.
Steps in Making Asopao de Gandules

How to make Asopao de Gandules

Now that you have all your ingredients ready let's get cooking!

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the chicken and cook until it is lightly browned on all sides.
  3. Next, add onion, garlic, green and red bell peppers, and sauté for a few minutes until they are softened.
  4. Pour in the tomato sauce and chicken broth, and bring to a boil.
  5. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add in the rice and pigeon peas, stir well, and cover the pot with a lid.
  7. Let it cook for 20–25 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked.
  8. Lastly, add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve hot in bowls, and enjoy!

Tips for Making the Perfect Asopao de Gandules

Handy tips for your cooking adventure:

  • You can use fresh or frozen gandules in this recipe, so choose what's easiest for you!
  • If you like spicy food, feel free to add in extra red pepper flakes.
  • For a complete meal, serve your Asopao de Gandules alongside some white rice.
  • To make this dish even more flavorful, you can marinate the chicken beforehand in a mixture of adobo seasoning, garlic powder, and oregano.
  • Some traditional recipes also call for adding ham or chorizo to the stew for added depth of flavor.
  • If you want a thicker consistency, you can add a few tablespoons of tomato paste or pureed pumpkin to the stew.
  • This dish tastes even better when reheated, so don't be afraid to make extra leftovers!
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Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I use canned pigeon peas instead of fresh ones?

You can use canned ones if you don't have fresh pigeon peas. They are just as good and can be used in the same way as fresh ones. They also make your cooking easier and faster because you don't have to soak them overnight, like dried peas. However, they might have a slightly different texture and flavor compared to fresh pigeon peas. Also, canned products often contain added salt, so you may want to adjust the seasoning of your recipe accordingly. Remember to rinse them before adding them to your dish to remove any excess sodium. 

Can I use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth? 

Chicken broth can serve as a substitute for vegetable broth. However, it's crucial to keep in mind that if you're preparing a meal for a vegetarian—someone who abstains from meat consumption—chicken broth isn't a suitable choice as it's derived from chicken. Also, chicken broth's flavor profile differs slightly from vegetable broth's, but that's the beauty of cooking—it allows you to experiment and discover what appeals to your palate the most!

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Can I use dried gandules instead of fresh or frozen? 

You can use dried ones if you don't have fresh or frozen gandules. But remember, they are very hard because all their water has been taken out. So, you need to soak them in water for several hours, or even overnight, before you cook them. This makes them soft and ready to be cooked.

Soaking the dried gandules is like letting a sponge sit in a bowl of water. After a while, the sponge absorbs the water and gets nice and squishy. That's exactly what happens to the dried gandules when you soak them—they absorb the water and become soft again.

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Asopao de Gandules

Yield: 4-6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Asopao de Gandules is a traditional Puerto Rican dish that beautifully blends the island's rich culinary heritage and abundant local ingredients. This hearty stew features gandules (pigeon peas), a staple in Caribbean cuisine, simmered with rice, herbs, and spices to create a flavorful and comforting meal.

The dish is often garnished with olives and capers, adding a tangy contrast to the savory broth. Perfect for family dinners or festive gatherings, Asopao de Gandules is a true taste of Puerto Rico.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces gandules, fresh or frozen
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. 
  2. Add gandules, onion, bell pepper, tomato paste, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 3-4 minutes. 
  3. Next, add 1 cup of broth, diced tomatoes, the herbs and spices. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 10-15 minutes. 
  4. After that, stir in the remaining 3 cups of broth, salt, and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cover with a lid. Cook the soup, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 15-20 minutes more. 
  5. Stir in cilantro and serve.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 125Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 361mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 4g

These nutritional calculations might not be accurate. Please speak with a licensed nutritionist to assist you.

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