Sopa de platano (plantain soup) is a thick, starchy soup that’s popular in Caribbean cuisine. In this recipe we’re going with a simple Cuban-style sopa de platano.
The ingredients for this soup are few and simple so that the plantains get a chance to shine. We garnish the plantain soup with chopped cilantro, crushed plantain chips and serve it with lime wedges. The lime juice complements the green plantains beautifully!
What is a plantain?
Platanos, or plantains are a type of banana. Although they resemble bananas, they’re quite different. Plantains are larger and have a much thicker skin than bananas. But the main difference is that plantains are typically not eaten out of hand like bananas, they are cooked before eating.
Platanos can be prepared in several ways depending on their level of ripeness. There are three levels:
Platano verde – green plantains are completely green, no yellowing and they are very firm when pressed
Platano pinton – plantains in a semi-ripe state, they are yellow with some black spots and give a little when pressed
Platano maduro – maduro means ripe in Spanish. Platanos maduro are plantains that are allowed to ripen to the point that the outside is mostly black and are soft when pressed
How to cook plantains
The cooking method used for plantains depends on their level of ripeness. Green plantains are not sweet at all. They are very starchy and have a mild flavor, like a potato but earthier. Semi-ripe and ripe plantains are sweet and taste a little like a banana but richer and sweeter.
Popular cooking methods for plantains
In their green state platanos are twice fried to make tostones. They’re also sliced thin and deep fried to make plantain chips (or mariquitas); and they’re used in soups and stews.
When plantains are pinton, or in their semi-ripe state, they’re used in soups or stews like this Cuban style Ajiaco.
When plantains are ripe they’re sliced diagonally and fried to make Fried sweet plantains or platanos maduros fritos – also called just Maduros. They’re super sweet and develop a golden to dark brown exterior when fried as the sugar in the plantain caramelizes. Platanos maduros are also used to make desserts, like platanos en tentacion – which are ripe plantains cooked with a sweet syrup.
Alright, now that we know about plantains, let’s make some soup!
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Sopa de platano ingredients
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Small Onion, finely diced
- ¾ – 1 cup Diced Carrots (1 – 2 carrots, depending on their size)
- 1 Celery Rib, finely diced
- 3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon Cumin
- 2 Large Green Plantains, peeled and cut into ½ inch rounds
- 6 cups Chicken Broth
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Salt, to taste if needed
- Chopped Cilantro or Parsley for garnish, optional
- Crushed Plantain Chips for garnish, optional
- Limes for serving, optional
There are few ingredients in this soup so prep work is a snap. We’ll start with peeling and slicing the green plantains:
- Cut off each end.
- Slice the plantain in half to make it more manageable.
- Run the tip of a sharp knife down the length of the plantain, scoring the peel.
- Use your thumb to get under the peel and pry it away from the fruit.
Repeat with the second plantain. Once they’re peeled, slice them into roughly ½ inch rounds.
For the rest of the prep work:
- Dice the onion, carrots and celery. They’re going into the pot at the same time so keep them in the same bowl. I like using glass nesting bowls to organize my prepped ingredients.
- Mince the garlic.
- Next, measure out the olive oil, cumin, chicken broth and grab the bay leaf. That’s it for the prep work.
Make the plantain soup
Let’s start this soup off with a flavor base. Here we’re using a mirepoix, which is a combination of onions, carrots and celery sautéed in a little bit of oil. It’s an extra step, but it adds great flavor to soups and sauces and makes the difference between good and great!
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onions, carrots and celery to the pot. Cook the vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Next, add the garlic and cumin to the pot. Cook for 1 minute, stirring almost constantly. Add the sliced plantains and give everything a good stir. Lastly, add the chicken broth and the bay leaf and stir well.
Raise the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. It will take about 4-5 minutes for the broth to start boiling.
Once the soup is boiling, lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook the sopa de platano for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The plantains should be so tender that they will break apart when pressed with a wood spoon or spatula. If they are not, continue cooking for another 10 minutes and check again.
It may be necessary to stir more often and/or lower the heat a little bit as the soup thickens.
Remove and discard the bay leaf.
We want to wait until the end to add salt to the soup because the store-bought chicken broth contains a good amount already. Taste the soup and add salt if needed. As a reference we did not add any extra salt to ours.
The soup is done, when the plantains are tender. It can be served as is, or you can process the soup a little bit. We half-processed the soup using an immersion blender but left it a little chunky. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a potato masher and smash some of the plantains, while stirring.
Garnish the soup with chopped cilantro (or parsley) and crushed plantain chips, if desired.
Want more Cuban food? Try one of these recipes:
- Cuban Soups – a collection of popular Cuban soups
- Arroz con Pollo – Cuban chicken and rice
- Ropa Vieja – Shredded beef in a flavorful tomato sauce
- Picadillo – Ground beef cooked in tomato sauce with potatoes and olives
- Fricase de Pollo – Chicken stewed in tomato sauce
Sopa de Platano (Plantain Soup)
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Small Onion finely diced
- ¾ – 1 cup Diced Carrots 1 – 2 carrots, depending on their size
- 1 Celery Rib finely diced
- 3-4 Garlic Cloves minced
- ½ teaspoon Cumin
- 2 Large Green Plantains peeled and cut into ½ inch rounds
- 6 cups Chicken Broth
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Salt to taste if needed
- Chopped Cilantro or Parsley for garnish optional
- Crushed Plantain Chips for garnish optional
- Limes for serving optional
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook the vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the garlic and cumin and cook for 1 minute, stirring almost constantly.
- Add the sliced plantains and give everything a good stir.
- Add the chicken broth and the bay leaf and stir well.
- Raise the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil.
- Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook the soup for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The plantains should break apart when pressed with a wood spoon, if they do not; continue cooking for 10 minutes and check again.
- Remove and discard the bay leaf.
- Taste the soup and add salt if needed. As a reference we did not add any extra salt to ours.
- Process the soup with an immersion blender or potato masher, if desired. Don’t process all the way, leave the soup a little chunky.
- Garnish the soup with chopped cilantro (or parsley) and crushed plantain chips, if desired.
This sounds delicious! I love soapa de platano but have only used the packaged mix. Can’t wait to try it! Thanks.
I hope you enjoy it.
Your Plantain Soup recipe is delicious and simple to make.
Thank you, I’m happy you enjoyed it.
I’ve made this soup 3 times already. I absolutely love it! It’s so nutritious and filling that I can have it as my whole meal. To add some protein You can add a bit of cooked chicken.