This Potaje de Chicharos Cubanos Recipe is a step by step guide to building a hearty, delicious, and flavorful split pea soup.
Potaje de Chicharos Cubanos is at the heart of the humble kitchen. It takes modest ingredients and brings them together to make something hearty and nourishing. Essentially it is bringing together fresh split peas, sofrito, vegetables and an array of smokey and salty pork products into one beautiful delicious bowl.
As the split peas cook, they will absorb all the different flavors and breakdown. Instead of chorizo you can use bacon or small pieces of ham instead of a whole ham hock. The carrots and potatoes can be paired with sweet potato, pumpkin and leafy greens for more nourishing vegetables. The idea is to bring together a combination of textures and flavors with simple ingredients.
Potaje vs Soup
Potaje is more of a stew and usually involves smoked pork products such as the chorizo, ham hock and serrano that are used in this recipe. It can be made with any bean or legume such as lentils, white beans and red beans.
My mom and grandmothers always had some kind of soup or stew bubbling in the background. It’s perfect along a traditional meal such as Palomillia and Tostones. It’s hearty enough to serve as a meal. If you want to keep it classic, serve the split pea potaje with rice and a banana.
Our Tips for Potaje de Chicharos
- We are working with fresh split peas. Make sure you lay them out on a tray and pull out all the broken and damaged ones.
- If the chicharos begin to get too thick, just add more water or chicken stock to loosen it up. If it’s too liquidy, let it cook uncovered until it thickens.
- To make this vegan/vegetarian just omit the smoked ham and chorizo.
- Be sure to stir the Chicharos from time to time while they are simmering on low so that they do not stick.
- It’s naturally thick, but you can also blend a part of it for a more creamy texture.
- Instant Pot Directions: You can make this in an Instant Pot/ pressure cooker instead of the stove top. You will want to use the same ingredients and start by sauteing the simple sofrito. Then add all of the remaining ingredients and pressure cook on medium for 40 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release, give the stew a stir and add more liquid if necessary.
Potaje de Chicharos (Split Pea Soup)Course: SoupsCuisine: CubanDifficulty: Easy
1 pound of chicharo/split pea, rinsed and drained
4 oz dried chorizo, left whole
1 large ham hock
2 oz of jamon iberico, cut in chunks
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
¼ cup of olive oil
1 cup of small potatoes left whole
3 carrots, diced
3 bay leaves
8 cups of chicken stock or bone broth
½ cup of tomato sauce
1 tablespoon of sazon
¼ tablespoon of parsley
- It all starts with Sofrito. In a large pot add the onions, bell pepper and oil. Add sazon, bay leaves and salt and allow it to cook together on medium high for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables soften.
- Then add the garlic and saute for 3 minutes until slightly golden.
- Time to Add the Good Stuff. Add the chorizo, ham, jamon serrano and the split pea. Stir together and allow the sofrito to coat the split peas.
- Add the tomato sauce and broth. Turn heat to high and allow it to come to a boil. Once it boils lower the heat to a simmer. Partially cover the soup with a lid, and cook on a low simmer for about 60 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Add the potatoes and carrots. *Be sure the soup is not sticking to the bottom of the pot. If you need to add more water do so now.
- Cook for another 35-45 minutes. You will know it’s ready when the chicharos are completely falling apart and the potatoes are fork tender. If you are using ham hock you can pull apart the ham and discard the bone and fatty parts.
- Add the parsley and mix in. Garnish with more parsley or your favorite fresh herbs.