Andean Mountain Bean Stew (shambar)

Serves a crowd of 6 to 8


In the Andes of Peru, a hearty stew is an obvious choice to fight off the chill mountain life. Shambar is a thick, nourishing Peruvian golden bean stew that’s a popular Monday night dinner, but could be part of your week any day when a stick-to-your-ribs one-pot meal is in order.

Golden South American yellow chile paste will give this soup it’s special hue and is worth finding. Regarding other traditional ingredients I’ve made some changes such as substituting traditional parboiled, peeled wheat berries for quinoa and mixture of easily obtained canned beans for a more nutritious, faster soup.

About ají amarillo: this is a fruity yellow chili with a heat level slightly less than jalapeños found throughout Peruvian and some Bolivian cuisine (chilies are called ají in most of South America). This ají (the South American term for chile) is commonly used in the form of a paste. Latino grocers that stock South American (especially Peruvian or Bolivian) goods should have this paste, which make it very convenient to add ají flavor to most anything. Once open, store the jar in the fridge and use the paste within 2 weeks.


Substitution  note: If you can’t locate the ají amarillo paste, removed the seeds and stems from one yellow or orange bell pepper and puree with two fresh red jalapenos or Serrano chiles.


1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely diced

1 large carrot, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 cup white wine or vegetable broth

1/4 cup ají amarillo paste or see Note for substitution

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground sweet or smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

5 cups vegetable broth

1 large waxy potato, scrubbed, unpeeled and finely diced

1 pound winter squash, peeled and diced into ½ inch cubes

One 14 ounce can (2 cups cooked) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

One 14 ounce can (2 cups cooked) pinto beans or white beans, drained and rinsed

1/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained

One 14 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Few twists of freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat a four quart soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and dry saute for 6 to 8 minutes or until the vegetables have reduced in bulk by half. Add the olive oil and garlic and sauté another 2 minutes. Pour in the wine, yellow ají paste (or pureed substitution), oregano, paprika, and cumin and deglaze the pan. Simmer until about half of the liquid has been absorbed.


2. Stir in vegetable broth, then the potato, squash, beans, quinoa, and diced tomatoes. Bring to a gentle boil, stir a few times and lower heat to medium-low; partially cover the pot and simmer for 35 minutes or until the potato and squash are very tender.


3. Scoop 2 cups of the soup into a blender. Puree until smooth and stir the puree back into pot to help thicken stew. You can also use an immersion blender and pulse the soup a few times, but take care not to puree everything; leave it chunky. Stir in the liquid smoke, chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.


4. Turn off the heat and allow the soup to stand for 5 minutes before serving. This soup will thicken and the flavor will deepen the next day.