Want a great way to beat the winter blues?  Warm up your tummy with this delicious and hearty Caldo de Bolas de Verde (CAHL-doh deh BOH-lahs deh VEHR-deh), a.k.a., green plantain dumpling in broth.  When I took a bite of a dumpling soaked in the soup, my eyes teared up.  The dumplings tasted exactly how I remembered – mission accomplished.  My husband was in awe of how good the dumplings and the soup were; needless to say, we had a good supper on a brutally cold day.

When I was a little girl, I looked forward to bolones.  While the sopa part of it didn’t thrill me that much, the way my nana made it for me was basically straining out all the vegetables, so that I would have a couple of dumplings in a broth.  I remember eating this soup with a side of white rice, which I would dump into the soup bowl.

The broth itself is delicious.  It is made with beef tail bones, beef stew meat, celery, carrots, yuca, and sweet corn.   Making the dumplings this time around required an experiment that turned out perfect.  I added one egg to the dumpling dough so that they would hold together and not disintegrate in the broth.  The bolones are made of both cooked and raw plantains, which also helps in keeping them together and adds a crunch element.  The dumpling filling is made with the beef stew meat that is chopped in tiny pieces and combined with the celery, carrots and yuca you fish out of the broth.  The filling normally has peas and chopped hard boiled eggs, but my husband is not a fan of either; you are more than welcome to use peas instead of celery.  Whatever filling you have left after making the dumplings is poured back in the broth for a thick, hearty soup.  Enjoy!

Sopa de Bolas de Verde

(Printable Version)

Ingredients:

Broth

Aliño

1 lb beef stew meat chunks

1 tomato

1/2 large pepper

1/2 large red onion

achiote-infused oil

salt, pepper and cumin to taste

1 1/2 lbs beef tail bones

4 carrots cut in small pieces

2 celery stalks cut in small pieces

1 large fresh yuca root cut in 1-inch slices

2 ears fresh sweet corn cut in thirds

2 green plaintains cut in half

1/4 tsp red hot pepper flakes

1/4 tsp dry sage

small bunch of cilantro leaves

10 cups water

Dumpling filling

1 small tomato

1/2 large green pepper

1/2 large red onion

Aliño

salt, pepper and cumin to taste

2-3 tbsp broth

1/2 cup raisins

Green plantain dumplings:

2 green plantains, peeled and grated

4 tbsp broth

1 egg

Preparation:

Broth:

Season the beef chunks with the aliño and let the meat marinade ideally for an hour.

In a large stock pot, make the refrito using the tomato, 1/2 pepper and 1/2 red onion.  Sautee the refrito in achiote-infused oil.  Add 1 tbsp of aliño for extra flavoring and sautee for about 5 minutes.

 

Add the beef chunks and the beef bones and sautee for about 15 minutes until the meats start turning brown.  Season with the cumin, red hot pepper flakes, sage and cilantro.

 

Add 10 cups of water and the yuca.  Bring to a boil; reduce the temperature to medium and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Add the plantains and simmer for another 30 minutes.

Add the corn, the carrots and the celery and cook for another 10-15 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked.

Remove the beef stew meat and let it cool down before chopping.  You may remove the beef bones from the broth at this time.  If you are using beef bones that have meat in them, you may choose to leave them in the broth as part of the soup meal.  Otherwise, you may use this meat for the filling also.

Strain the beef broth from the vegetables.  Return the corn and the plaintains to the broth and continue to simmer on low heat.  Set the yuca, corn and celery aside for the filling.

Filling:

Once the beef meat is cooled, chop in small pieces.  Chop the yuca, carrots and celery in smaller pieces.

In a large sautee pan, make a refrito using the tomato, 1/2 pepper and 1/2 red onion.  Add a tbsp of aliño for flavoring.  Add the tbps of broth.  Sautee for about 5 minutes.

 

Add the chopped beef and the chopped vegetables to the refrito.  Season with salt, pepper and cumin if necessary.  Add the raisins, and chopped hard boiled eggs (optional).

Sautee until all the ingredients are incorporated.  Remove the filling from the heat.

Dumplings:

Remove the plaintains from the broth and process with 4 tbsp of broth until a dough forms and easily releases from the food processor.

 

Combine the dough with the shredded raw green plantains and the egg.  Knead this mixture until you have a dough.

Wet your hands and make patties in your hands.  Make a dent in the middle to put the filling.

Add about 1-2 tbsp of filling in the patties.  Close them up, and shape in the form of a ball, ensuring no filling is coming out.

 

Final Preparation:

Return the dumplings to the broth and simmer for another 15 minutes to make sure the egg is cooked.

Add any remaining filling back to the broth, and warm up all the ingredients.

Gently ladle a dumpling out and place in a soup bowl.  Add the broth with the corn and the extra filling, and beef bones with meat (if you used them).  Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.  Serve warm with a side of white rice, aji or encurtido.