Cazuela Blanca | The House of the Spirits

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende is a poignant and whimsical story of a family, told in beautiful rolling prose. The story unfolds across generations and across Chile, from Santiago to the countryside at the family’s estate, the Trés Marias, where they spend their summers and the daughter, Blanca, feels most at home.

Their traditional first night dinner is cazuela de ave, consequently the national dish of Chile. It’s a soupy stew, very unfussy with the chicken still on the bone and the corn still on the cob. It’s lightly seasoned and intensely homey and comforting. This version is vegetarian, using cannellini beans in place of chicken. With the white beans, white sweet corn, and potatoes, it’s light and bright, and named for the character that loves it most. Cazuela feels as warm and familiar as curling up with the book.

Cazuela Blanca

  • olive oil
  • 1 white onion, sliced (halve first, then cut the halves into thirds so the slices aren’t crazy long)
  • salt and white pepper (black pepper is fine)
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (optional, I create more umami by simmering a piece of kombu with the broth and removing at the end)
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 4 ears white corn, peeled, cleaned, and cut into thirds
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • garnish: hot sauce, cilantro, parsley

Heat a couple tablespoons olive oil, and cook onion with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper until translucent and just starting to color. Add garlic and cook for a minute or so, then add vegetable broth, stirring to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom. Add beans and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add corn, potatoes and butternut squash and check seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Simmer until potatoes and butternut squash are very soft but not falling apart.

Serve hot over rice or with crusty bread, sprinkled with herbs and with a dash of hot sauce.

Recipe for Fiction Kitchen Episode 59: THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS & MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER in which Carrie and Diana discuss pastries, country food, bland translations, pretty edible flowers, and elaborate picnics!