Asopao is a rice-based soup served in Puerto Rican homes during the Christmas season, which begins in early November and extends until Feb. 2, with the fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, or Candlemas.

olive oil

3 ounces smoked ham, cubed

2 large onions, diced

8 cloves garlic, chopped

1 chicken, cut into pieces (or substitute shrimp or pigeon peas)

½ cup green cubanelle pepper, diced

1 cup rice

¾ cup stuffed green olives or alcaparrado (a mix of olives and capers)

1 small can tomato sauce

6-8 cups water

2 teaspoons oregano

½ teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon sofrito (optional; sofrito can be found in the Hispanic foods supermarket aisle in jars, as a fresh herb mix, or frozen.)

handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and cook the ham, onions and garlic together for a few minutes.
  2. Add the chicken and brown slightly.
  3. Add the other ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
  4. Enjoy with loved ones. One feature of this soup is that it is easy to cook for a crowd -- if you have more guests than you expected, just add more water.