I had decided to make a chicken soup for a weekday dinner. I have gotten bored with my usual chicken noodle soup, so I wanted to do something different. Looking at my overall list of Country Views, I noticed that no one has ever visited my blog from Paraguay. I though what kind of soup would they make?
Paraguayan bori-bori or vori-vori—the difference seems to be a linguistic drift from the translation from Spanish, you will find recipes that are near identical except for the name—is a soup with dumplings of cornmeal and cheese. The name is a repetitive plural referring to the balls of dough, but there seems to be no set soup for this dish—which may be based on beef, chicken or even vegetarian. This dish’s distinctive feature is the little ball of crumbly cheese mixed with cornmeal, a bolita.
Looking a variety of recipes, I chose ingredients that fit in with my pantry and time constraints. My first change was to not use pork/bacon fat, a constant ingredient in the traditional recipes—which Jan prefers me not to use. I did not have time or the beef shanks to make the beef version of the broth. Even the beef version of this dish seems to use chicken broth and chicken would cook much more quickly. Finally, the ingredients for the dumplings varied from a simple corneal, cheese and water dumplings to those that added many ingredients—mine ended up on the more complex end.
Note: To make the vegetarian version of this soup, leave out the chicken and use a vegetable broth.
The tradition recipe is made with a salty crumbly queso Paraguaye. Many recipes use Parmesan or Romano cheese which seem a bit too salty. Other recipes substitute with Ricotta, Muenster cheese or Mozzarella, which are a bit too creamy and melt-y. I finally decided that a close approximation of the original would be a mix of Mexican queso fresco for the texture and some Parmesan for the saltiness and additional flavor.
Karl’s Paraguayan Bori Bori de Pollo Soup (Chicken and Dumpling Soup)
1 cups cornmeal (yellow fine grind)
2 Tbs. Parmesan cheese, grated
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ lb. queso fresco
2-3 green onions, sliced finely, separate uses, keep the white parts separate
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Soup (or your favorite chicken, beef or vegetable soup)
1 Tbs. butter
4 chicken thighs, skinless boneless
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced (about ½ cup)
½ tsp. Kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup green bell pepper, chopped
36.5 oz. chicken broth, separate uses
1 tsp. European oregano
1 tsp. chervil
¼ tsp. pepper
1 big beefsteak tomato
1. Mix the cornmeal, Parmesan, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
2. Crumble the queso fresco into the bowl and mix in the white parts of the green onion.
3. Mix in the egg and some broth or water to form a firm dough.
4. Form the dough into small balls and place on a plate.
Tip: Some recipes call for one teaspoon sized balls, others call for one tablespoon sized balls.
Note: Lightly cover the plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate, to allow the bori-bori to completely hydrate and firm up.
5. Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium high heat.
6. Brown the chicken well on both sides and, when done, set them aside.
Tip: When the chicken has cooled, cut the thighs into small bite sized pieces.
7. Sauté the onions, celery and salt until the vegetables are soft, about five minutes.
Tip: Use the moisture released by the vegetables to deglaze the pot.
8. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the garlic to the hole in the center.
9. Sauté the garlic for one minute, until fragrant, and mix into the vegetables.
10. Add the green bell peppers, broth, oregano, chervil, and pepper to the pot and bring it to a boil.
11. Cut a cross in the bottom of the—uncut—tomato and submerge it in the hot soup for one minute.
12. Remove and cool the tomato.
13. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low.
14. Peel, seed, chop the tomato and set it aside in a bowl.
Tip: Scrap the seeds into a sieve over a small bowl to save the jelly.
15. Add the bori-bori, chicken, and tomatoes to the pot.
16. Simmer until the dumplings are cooked through, 15-25 minutes—depending on the size of your dumplings.
17. Stir in most of the green parts of the onions.
Tip: Reserve some of the green onions to garnish individual bowls.
18. Serve immediately.
Tip: You may also provide grated Parmesan cheese, on the side, for individual diners to add to their soup.