How to Make Abuela-Approved Asopao de Pollo

Try your hand at this hearty Puerto Rican stew.

Asopao de Pollo
Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Asopao de pollo is a staple in Puerto Rican kitchens, whether it’s for a family reunion, holidays, or simply a flavorful home-cooked meal. Traditionally made with rice, chicken, sofrito seasoning, and vegetables, the hearty stew has different iterations around the country—like asopao de gandules, asopao de camarones, and the list goes on.

Living in la diáspora, homesick, and experiencing winter forced me to go back to my roots and learn recipes from my abuela, Mai, which conjure many fond family memories. My grandma never wrote down or shared her asopao de pollo recipe. I mostly remember the smell, taste, and a few mental pictures of the ingredients when I used to watch her cook after school. To learn how to create my own version of this traditional recipe, I solicited advice from the family group chat on WhatsApp and brainstormed with my mom, tío, tía, and cousin.

Grandmas all over the island have their signature asopao recipes. My abuela always served it with tostones (fried plantains), tostones de pana (breadfruit fritters), or a sliced avocado on the side. Whatever your preference, I can guarantee this soup is the perfect dish to make when you’re craving something warm and comforting in the colder months.

Asopao de Pollo Recipe

Ingredients:
Serves 4-6

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 potato cut into 6 pieces
  • 2 pounds skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sofrito
  • 1 8 oz can no salt added tomato sauce
  • 1 packet Sazon seasoning with annatto
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives or alcaparrado (optional)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh culantro, chopped
  • 1 cup medium-grain rice
  • Smoked ham, cut into ½ cubes

Directions:
1. Season the chicken thighs with adobo seasoning and dried oregano.
2. Heat oil in a medium pot, add the chicken, cook until golden brown on all sides for about 7 minutes, and set aside.
3. Add to the pot the onions, peppers, ham, garlic, oregano, Sazon, tomato sauce, and cook until fragrant.
4. Stir all of the ingredients right into the sofrito before adding the chicken back.
5. When all of the ingredients are in the pot, pour the 6 cups of water into the caldero (pot), add the salt, bouillon cube, and sliced potatoes.
6. Add the rice. Over the cooking time, you can add more water if needed as the rice cooks and absorbs the liquids.
7. ​​Bring the soup to a boil, then turn down the heat, and allow it to simmer for up to 25 minutes.
8. Stir in the olives, cilantro, and culantro for another 5 minutes, and serve.
9. On the side, we eat it with tostones (fried plantains) or tostones de pana (breadfruit fritters) and/or with a slice of avocado.

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Kisai Ponce is the Director of Audience Development at Thrillist. You can follow her on Twitter or see her cats and what Housewives she’s watching on Instagram.