Nothing says summer like a creamy, hearty bowl of corn, squash and bean soup. What? You don’t agree? Then you’ve never tried one of my favorite Chilean foods, porotos granados. The main ingredients are beans, corn, squash and basil, though some throw in some cut up string beans as well.
The porotos (from the Quecha word puruto for bean) themselves are gorgeous. In English, they’re cranberry beans, and they come in pods brightly speckled with pink, piled high in the market. Inside, the beans are a creamy white, and they’re cooked fresh, never dried. They’re always plump and toothsome. After the beans comes the squash, which in Chile, is just that, squash. Not pumpkin, not butternut, just a giant, mottled squash sold by the corte (thick slice) in the market. This is cubed and cooked together with the beans.
While the beans are going, the cook selects the appropriate corn on the cob. This is not the corn-on-the-cob of your youth, to be eaten dripping with butter at a church picnic. Instead, it is a giant, large-kerneled corn, pale in color, and with the diameter of the large end of a baseball bat. To make porotos granados, you need ground corn, and there are two ways to go about it. You can either grate the corn against the rough side of a grater, or you can cut the kernels off the cob and send them through the food processor.
Either way, this mash is added after the beans and squash have cooked until they are almost done, in a pressure cooker. After opening the cooker, you add the corn, and from this point on, must stir fairly frequently, or the corn will stick.
The potage is usually seasoned with aliño completo, which is a mix of spices including curry powder, a sort of quiet cousin of garam masala, and then always fresh basil, which can be put into the soup and used as a garnish on top.
The soup is traditionally served in a greda (terra cotta) bowl, and often accompanied by ensalada chilena (Chilean salad, quartered tomatoes with sliced onions, and sometimes lemon juice, olive oil and cilantro). Want to try porotos granados in Santiago? Try Juan y Medio in Plaza Brasil, or Galindo‘s in Bellavista for some close-by options, or head out to nearby Pomaire (where the terra cotta dishes are made) to connect with your inner huaso (Chilean cowboy). Buen provecho!
Photos courtesy bearshapedsphere, used with permission.