Comfort food of the month: Nicaraguan Sopa de Semana Santa con Rosquillas

Semana Santa, Holy Week, usually takes place during the last week of March and first week of April. Semana Santa is celebrated by Catholic and Christian countries. Nicaragua, is one of the many Latin American countries to not only recognize Semana Santa, but have world renown celebrations as well.

This month I have the pleasure of showcasing a Nicaraguan staple: Sopa de Semana Santa (Holy Week Soup). The dish is a national specialty, named after the celebrations because of its popularity. The dish combines creamy tomato soup, with delicious handmade savory cookies, rosquillas. Coming from a Nicaraguan background I would enjoy this dish occasionally. My mother would love to serve Holy Week Soup especially on a rainy Spring day. As a soup enthusiast and in the spirit of the holidays, I felt compelled to share this amazing recipe with you. This meal is not only a staple during the Holy Week Celebrations, but a go-to meal on a brisk or cold day. 

Rosquillas 
Servings: Makes approximately 15-20

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 2 ½ cups of corn flour (masa harina)
  • 1-2 cups of cotija cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup of water

Instructions: 

  1. Combine eggs, salt, sugar and baking soda in a bowl. 
  2. Add the cornflour, shredded cotija cheese and water. Combine to form a dough.
  3. Knead until a dough-like texture forms (if too soggy add more flour, if too hard add water accordingly)
  4. Form the dough into a ball and portion into small pieces for 15-20 individual cookies, roll into small balls, and then into small sticks/rolls.
  5. Loop one end and stick to the other end, thus creating the rosquilla look. See photo for reference. 
  6. Heat vegetable oil in a shallow pan and fry until a light golden brown. Or bake in an oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-40 minutes. Flip halfway through for an even bake. 
  7. Serve atop or dip in sopa de semana santa.

Sopa de Semana Santa 
Servings: Makes approximately 2-4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 liter of water
  • 2 tomatoes 
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 red onion
  • Butter or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of chicken bouillon 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 bundle of cilantro
  • 2 cups of orange juice
  • 1 ½  cups of corn flour (masa harina)
  • 2 cups of shredded cotija cheese
  • 1 tablespoons of achiote (Latin American Paprika Paste)
  • 1 cup of cream (sour, heavy whipping, or milk, etc.)
  • 5 cloves of garlic 
  • Mint for garnish
  • Cilantro for garnish

Instructions: 

  1. In a large pot bring one liter of water to a boil. 
  2. In a separate pot, add garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers and onions whole and cook thoroughly using olive oil or butter for 20 minutes or until soft or a paste-like consistency. 
  3. When water comes to a boil, add chicken bouillon, salt and pepper, and cilantro. 
  4. When vegetables are well cooked, mash up using a mallet, wooden spoon or blender, then add to the large pot. 
  5. Add orange juice to vegetable salsa, mix well.
  6. Next, mix corn flour, cotija cheese and achiote in a separate bowl, add water to make it a thick consistency. 
  7. Add corn flour mix to the soup.
  8. Next, add heavy or sour cream to the soup for a creamy taste.
  9. Allow soup to come to a boil, turn off the heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes to let flavors meld thoroughly. 
  10. Serve with rosquillas, garnish with mint and chopped cilantro and enjoy! 

Images by Johnny Mendoza

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