Pilar Hernandez is a cookbook author and food blogger dedicated to bringing the best in typical Chilean food to her audience. Her forthcoming book The Chilean Kitchen: 75 Seasonal Recipes for Stews, Breads, Salads, Cocktails, Desserts, and More showcases delicious traditional Chilean food recipes using ingredients readily available in American supermarkets. It also highlights authentic Chilean hospitality, which is based on the Spanish phrase quédate un poquito or “stay awhile.”
We recently sat down with Pilar to discuss her background, passion for Chilean cuisine, and which recipe she’s loving right now.
1. Tell our readers a little bit about your background and how you were first introduced to Chilean cuisine.
I was born and raised in Chile in a matriarchal family with amazing cooks. I spent all my summers at my grandmother’s kitchen and also shadowing her (not always willingly) on her visits to markets and friends.
After college, I moved to the US without really knowing how to cook, but all the flavors were fresh on my mind. Since then, I have made it my mission to find the closest ingredients to replicate the authentic Chilean flavors in my kitchen.
2. What is it that you love most about Chilean food?
The love of vegetables. There are so many dishes where they shine. Meat, especially beef, was costly in Chile, so it has never been a culture of meat and potatoes.
3. What do you think is the secret to excellent Chilean cuisine?
Don’t overthink it. Chilean food is restrained when it comes to spices; most foods taste like the ingredients you see in front of you.
4. Tell our readers a bit about the recipe you chose to share.
I chose Chilean Summer Bean Soup or Porotos con mazamorra for several reasons. Beans are the backbone of meals in winter and summer. This summer soup is traditionally made with fresh corn and shelled beans from the market. Porotos con mazamorra marries together corn, winter squash, and beans. There is nothing more Chilean that this precise combination. Enjoy with a Chilean salad (tomatoes and onions). Told you we are simple folks.
Chilean Summer Bean Soup or Porotos con mazamorra
750 grams of beans, I used speckled butter beans, shelled (without pods) or 2 cans of white beans like Great Northern drained and rinsed
1 large or 2 medium onion, diced
2 cups winter squash, like butternut, already peeled and diced about 400 grams
3 ears of corn or a bag (1 lb.) of whole kernel frozen corn
sweet basil, a small bunch
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and diced, optional
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced, optional
Please click on the link to obtain the full instructions for Pilar’s Chilean Summer Bean Soup recipe.
Pilar runs two websites Chilean Food and Garden and En Mi Cocina Hoy where she challenges her followers to try exotic fruits like maqui and lucuma. She also inspires with gorgeous examples of urban gardening and her delectable Chilean cuisine recipes. As you develop an appreciation for Chilean food, why not consider a family-friendly vacation to this beloved nation? Check out our Atacama Family Adventure and our Patagonia Family Adventure now.