Monday, February 20, 2012

¡King Platano!: Sopitas de platano

I first ate sopas de platanos a little over a year ago. And I ate it in the cafeteria of a funeral home of all places. We had just caught an overnight flight to Puerto Rico on a cold day in December from Boston's Logan. We landed dazed, disoriented as it often happens when rushing to fly out from the north, in winter, to the sudden brightness of the tropics on the occasion of the death of a loved one. No matter how expected the call, one is never prepared. The sudden "jump" from one dimension (wintry dark days) to  another --the brightness of the warm tropical December sun--which combined with the sharpness of the throbbing-heart pain, is almost unbearable. Though  in the face of irrevocable loss we are stronger than we think. 

Staring into the expired body of a love one, a thought crosses your mind: "the void--this gap--between the migrant and the homeland grows deeper with every loss." And every loss is a piece of "home" that returns to the earth, ever more this is the home-land of my ancestors. This isn't about melancholia, nor nostalgia. But about the reality that home is actively forged elsewhere--the same forces that propel our migrations, our global dispersions, are the same forces that make "our foods" available wherever we are. And so how lucky am I? That in our contemporary world, I can find platanos pretty much anywhere!  I'll never forget the day I went to dinner at a restaurant on the Yaqui Reservation (in the Arizona dessert), and right there on the menu they advertised tostones! Out of all the places where I expected to find tostones, this was the absolute last. I asked the Yaqui woman behind the counter: "how did you guys learn to make tostones?" And she said, "oh, we went to play baseball in Puerto Rico and the baseball player's wives taught us, and we just loved plantains so much that we decided to put it on our menu!" 

Needless to say, that sopita de platano made an impression on me. It was delicious! Here I replicate my body-memory of that wonderful soup. The best part is that this soup will not disappoint. The recipe I share here is amazingly uplifting, warming, filling, comforting--just like I remember from that funeral home cafeteria a year ago. Comforting sopita to anchor you in the face of living in our dizzying world. Green and grounding, here is king platano in full splendor for your delight!

-10 cups water
-5 platanos
-1 carrot
-1/2 cup fresh cilantro
-1 tomato
-2 celery stalks
-5 cloves crushed garlic
-1/4 tspn oregano
-1/4 tspn lime juice
-1 1/2 packets sazón
-1 tspn garlic powder
-salt and pepper to taste

What to do?
Bring water to a boil: add the platanos, carrots, celery, garlic, tomato, cilantro, oregano, sazón, lime juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper. 
Cover and let cook on low-medium heat for about 15 (to 20) minutes or until platanos are soft. 
Turn off and put the soup in a blender--blend until it turns into a cream. Put back in saucepan on low and cover for about 5 minutes then serve.


  1. We miss coming home to the sweet smells of your kitchen! Thanks for sharing this story and recipe of comfort and return to home..

  2. Thanks A & C! I miss you guys too!!