This delicious fried pumpkin bread (sopaipillas) is super easy to make and can be eaten as a sweet or savoury snack or appetizer. They are particularly delicious served with a fresh, spicy Chilean pebre.
Country Number 35: Chile
We always get excited when we reach another South American country in our challenge. South American is not a cuisine we have cooked a lot prior to this challenge, so it has been fun to learn more about it. Despite the continent being notoriously meat-heavy, we’ve managed to find some great vegetarian dishes to cook. From vegetarian empanadas from Argentina to acai bowls from Brazil, every South American dish we’ve cooked so far has been a great success.
We can now add Chilean fried pumpkin bread, or sopaipillas as they are known, to our list of South American cooking successes.
History of Chilean Cuisine
Chilean cuisine relies heavily on seafood, beef, and a wealth of fresh fruit and vegetables. This makes sense given the country’s large coastal area and varying climates, ranging from the world’s driest desert in the north to glaciers in the south. As with so many other South American countries, the cuisine was formed by a combination of indigenous and Spanish cuisine, with German, French and Italian immigrants also influencing the cuisine.
The sopaipilla is the perfect example of this combination of cultures: fried dough was introduced by the Spanish colonisers, squash was added in Chile to give it a slightly sweet flavour and orange appearance, and the Araucanians (Chilean nomadic hunters) named them after a regional bird. As well as its food, Chile is particularly known for its vintages: Chile boasts some phenomenal vineyards, particularly those in Maipo Valley, aka the ‘Bordeaux of South America’, which provides the perfect excuse to indulge in a glass or four over lunch if you’re making this dish.
Popular Chilean Vegetarian Dishes
- Porotos granados – A country stew consisting of beans, maize and squash.
- Sopaipilla – Deep-fried pumpkin bread which is served as either a sweet or savoury snack.
- Tomatican – corn and tomato and assorted vegetable stew.
- Empanadas fritas de queso – deep fried or wood-fired pastry pockets stuffed with cheese.
- Pebre – Chilean salsa with varying ingredients depending on the region.
Vegetarian rating of Chilean Cuisine:
Making Chilean Fried Pumpkin Bread (Sopaipillas)
For a dough-based recipe, sopaipillas are surprisingly quick to make. You mix up the dough, knead it for 5-10 minutes, let it sit for another 10, divide the dough into small balls and then roll them out to make little discs. After that you deep-fry the discs in a skillet for a couple of minutes on each side until golden and serve hot.
Sopaipillas can either be savoury or sweet depending on your predilection. We felt like having ours savoury, so made a pebre (Chilean salsa) to go with it. If this is sounds good to you, simply whip up the pebre before starting the dough and serve alongside. Otherwise, you can serve it with other savoury options such as cheese, chilli sauce, sauerkraut, or mayonnaise, or sweet with dulce de leche, honey, chancaca (a sugar syrup made with cinnamon and orange peel) or just a dusting of icing sugar.
How to make Fried Pumpkin Bread (Sopaipillas)
The tastiness of this dish makes for a pretty fun lunchtime treat! For sopaillas with pebre, carry out the following steps:
- Make up the pebre by combining tomato, onion, garlic, coriander, chillies, olive oil and lime juice. Set aside while you make the sopaipillas
- Boil pumpkin until soft and then mash/blend until smooth. Mix in melted butter. Combine dry ingredients in another bowl.
- Gradually mix in dry ingredients until you form a pliant dough. Knead a few times, then let rest for 20 minutes. Roll dough out before cutting into 7cm discs with a cookie cutter. Prick each disc with a fork.
- Heat oil in a pan until hot, then drop discs into oil for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden. Drain and then serve.
Ingredient notes for Fried Pumpkin Bread
- Pumpkin- Some parts of Chile make Sopaipillas without pumpkin. If you want to do this, you’ll need to use yeast and warm water instead.
- Butter – Substitute with dairy-free butter to make vegan.
Serving suggestions for Sopaipillas
Best served fresh off the pan (with a quick time to dry on a paper towel to remove excess oil). As noted above, we served ours with pebre, but you can also serve it with other toppings, for example other savoury options such as cheese, chilli sauce, sauerkraut, or mayonnaise, or sweet with dulce de leche, honey, chancaca (a sugar syrup made with cinnamon and orange peel) or just a dusting of icing sugar.
Other pumpkin dishes to try
Fried Pumpkin Bread (Sopaipillas)
- 150 g pumpkin or squash (cut into chunks)
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup butter (melted)
- 1 cup vegetable oil (for frying)
- 1/2 cup tomato (diced)
- 1/2 cup onion (diced)
- 1 chilli (finely chopped)
- 1/4 cup coriander (chopped)
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- Salt & pepper (to taste)
- Place chunks of pumpkin/ squash into saucepan of water and boil until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Once cooked, mash or blend to achieve lump-free texture and set aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter with mashed pumpkin.
- Slowly stir in flour mixture until a smooth and pliable dough forms. Knead a few times, then shape into a ball, cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- Roll dough out onto a floured surface to a thickness of about 1/2cm. Cut into 7cm rounds using a cookie cutter or a cup. Poke each circle with a fork to make holes.
- Heat vegetable oil in a deep frying pan over medium-high heat until 195˚C. Place a few dough circles in oil at a time, frying for about 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and allow to marinate for a while to develop flavours.
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