I recently came across a recipe for Dominican Chapea, in the wonderful new The China Study Cookbook by LeAnne Campbell. I had never heard of this dish before, but it looked right up my alley.
I did a little research, and discovered that Chapea is a traditional bean stew, commonly served throughout the Dominican Republic countryside.
Though Chapea recipes vary from family to family, they generally include beans and rice, simmered in a flavorful broth, along with squash, onions, green pepper, and cilantro. Yum!
This version also has cabbage, which was another lure. I love finding ways to transform late harvest vegetables into a hearty autumn stew. The more the merrier. I haven’t been able to confirm whether or not cabbage is traditional in Chapea, but it is integral here.
One note about the rice. Because Chapea is traditionally made with white rice, it’s added directly into the soup pot to cook along with the rest of the stew. This makes it truly a one pot meal.
Full disclosure. I have substituted brown for white rice, for added flavor and nutrition. I love it this way, but because brown rice takes longer to cook, it does have to be prepared separately.
I use a rice cooker for brown rice, and throw the cooked brown rice into the stew at the end. This does create one extra step, but to me, it’s really worth it. If your family prefers white rice, just add it to the broth with the vegetables in the beginning.
This is a savory and comforting stew, and the newest member of my regular rotation. I think it’s absolutely delicious. For a lovely finishing touch, try garnishing with diced avocados.
DOMINICAN CHAPEA VEGETABLE STEW
1 1/2 cups brown rice, uncooked*
6 cups vegetable broth
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 green pepper, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 cups chopped or shredded cabbage
2 cups butternut squash, diced
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can pinto or navy beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Garnish: diced avocados (optional)
*Prepare the brown rice in advance, either on the stove or in a rice cooker.
Place the next 12 ingredients into large soup pot (broth through pepper). Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a rolling simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the squash and carrots are tender.
Pour the cooked warm brown rice into the soup pot, and combine well. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and/or cilantro. Serve with diced avocados, if desired.
(Adapted from The China Study Cookbook, by LeAnne Campbell)