Sopa Paraguaya: the corniest (gluten-free) cornbread ever

I wasn’t looking for gluten-free bread. Really, I wasn’t. I simply had a hankering for moist, dense, crumbly cornbread, something to serve alongside grilled chicken or a salad on these hot summer days.

At first, I thought I’d simply bake our Guaranteed Cornbread, which is far and away the best-tasting Northern-style (read: slightly sweet) cornbread I’ve ever enjoyed. But when I searched “cornbread” at kingarthurflour.com, lo and behold, what did I see right underneath our guaranteed recipe?

The cornbread of my dreams. Exactly what I was looking for.

Sopa Paraguaya. Paraguayan Cornbread.

It was the picture that sold me. While pictures don’t always speak a thousand words, this one had plenty to say. Dense? Yup. Moist? Definitely. Stuffed with… what IS that cornbread stuffed with?

The recipe revealed all: Milk, eggs, cornmeal, cottage cheese, and baking powder mixed into batter. Fried onions, red and green peppers, jack cheese, and corn kernels—fresh off the cob—stirred in. A touch of sugar, and a hint of salt and pepper to enhance the flavors. BINGO—cornbread to write home about.

The original recipe called for a 9” x 9” pan or casserole dish. Lately, though, I’ve become enamored of my cast iron skillet, and wondered if it would translate well to this recipe.

Let’s see… the area of a circle = π r2. (If that mathematical notation is wrong, give me a break – geometry was 42 years ago!) Turns out the capacity of a 10” round skillet is basically the same as a 9”x 9” square pan, given that both are the same depth. Awwright….

Once I’d fried the veggies, the batter went together quickly. And it baked just as quickly; in fact, it baked so fast in the skillet I nearly let it burn, pulling it out of the oven as the edges just started to darken to an unacceptable level. Caveat baker.

I let it cool but briefly, then cut a piece and lifted it out of the pan. Make that tried to lift it out; I had to scrape it off the bottom. Let that be a lesson to me (and you): just because you fried vegetables in your cast iron skillet, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to grease it when baking cornbread.

As I noted earlier, this is not your normal light-and-fluffy cornbread. This flourless version is moist and crumbly enough that you almost need to eat it with a fork. Which I did, enjoying every last satisfying bite, alongside a mug of homemade gazpacho.

Thus did my quest for simple cornbread turned into an unexpected—and pleasurable—adventure. My thanks to fellow blogger Susan Reid and our print newsletter, “The Baking Sheet,”—where the recipe first appeared—for this enticing Sopa Paraguaya.

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Fresh corn: ah, summer’s sweet pleasure… I’m using a “corn zipper” here to peel off the kernels, quick as a wink and totally undamaged.

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Nice, eh? This is a gadget that really works.

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Next, peppers and onions, chopped. Does wielding a knife around an onion send tears coursing down your cheeks? Try our onion goggles—another gadget that really works.

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Butter and oil, heated together in my cast iron skillet.

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Add the onions…

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…and fry till they soften and begin to brown.

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Add the peppers…

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…and fry till they’ve softened, but aren’t mushy.

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Remove the veggies from the skillet. Yeah, it LOOKS greased. But trust me—grease it again, using non-stick vegetable oil pan spray.

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Next, choose your cheese. I happen to love Cabot chipotle; it gives whatever you’re baking nice, smoky kick.

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Grate the cheese. Since it’ll be soft, you’ll want to grate it fairly coarse.

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Like this. The Microplane box grater I used is, yes, ANOTHER gadget that works grate great.

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OK, we’re finally ready to make the batter. First, we’ll stir together cornmeal and milk.

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ICK. Don’t worry, it gets better.

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Once we add the sugar, cottage cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and baking powder…

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…it becomes a somewhat grainy batter.

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Fried veggies and corn…

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…thicken it up.

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The cheese goes in last.

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Now isn’t that a soupy mess? Don’t worry; it’s supposed to look like this. You haven’t done anything wrong.

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Spoon the batter into the greased pan of your choice: a 9″ x 9″ cake pan; similar-sized casserole dish, or a 10″ cast iron skillet that’s at least, oh, 1 3/4″ deep.

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Bake…

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…and remove from the oven before it burns. See those brown edges? Caught it just in time.

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Cut in wedges, using a knife or a baker’s bench knife. (Did I mention that this is a gadget that REALLY works?!)

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Cut in quarters…

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…then cut each quarter into as many wedges as you like.

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The bread is fairly bursting with “extras.”

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And here it is, in all its corny glory. Enjoy!

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Sopa Paraguaya.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Casey Jones Village, Jackson, TN: Famous BaBa’s Cracklin’ Cornbread, $1.49/serving

Bake at home: Sopa Paraguaya, 34¢/serving

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Mrs. Hittle

    That looks delicious. i’ll have to try it. i wonder if the cast-iron skillet would work on the grill? i’m not too interested in turning on the oven right now…

    Thanks for including the picture of the Microplane grater. i have a zester of theirs and LOVE it, and have had my eye on the grater for awhile now. i’ve heard that softer cheeses (jack being one) might get a little mushed on the extra-sharp edges, but it seems it worked just fine for you. Another picture worth a thousand words.

    I think the extra-sharp cutters are perfect for softer cheeses… and Microplane certainly is known for their nice, sharp graters. Worked fine for me… And sure, the cast iron skillet is perfect for the grill. Just be sure it’s far enough away from the heat so you don’t burn the bottom of your cornbread. Have fun – PJH

    Reply
  2. Stephanie

    This looks perfect! Mine is in the oven now. I ended up using hominy instead of corn, and sharp cheddar in place of the jack. I can’t wait to taste the results, alongside some black beans and chipotle hot sauce. Thanks so much for this post!

    MMMMMM, sounds good, Stephanie! PJH

    Reply
  3. Angela

    OH my word this looks so delicious! And Gluten free! Would this hold up with any other type of milk.. unfortunately my sister has Celiac AND milk allergies!

    Sure, Angela – should be just fine. PJH

    Reply
  4. Sandy

    Wow…thank you so much for another gluten-free recipe! I can’t wait to make this for my daughter, who is Celiac and must eat gluten-free. Will also send the recipe to my son, who is Celiac, so his wife can make it for him and our grand-daughter, who is also Celiac. Thank you so much for making the effort to post gluten-free recipes!! You’re the best!!

    Wait till you taste our new gluten-free mixes, Sandy, coming out (hopefully) in January. They’re unbelievably good… Glad we can help. PJH

    Reply
  5. cindy leigh

    Looks great! Almost like a dense corn pudding.
    I won’der if, when in a rush, you could just use a can of MexiCorn? It’s already got the green and red peppers.
    I wish we had that chipotle cheese here. Well, maybe not! I only buy reduced fat and it’s probably not! Maybe I could use my Cabot reduced fat and add a tsp of Tabasco Chipotle sauce.

    Yes try the can of Mexicorn-It simplifies prep and then another time you can try using all fresh ingredients. The Tabasco Chipotle should add just the right amount of heat. Joan@bakershotline

    Reply
  6. Lish

    I was just thinking that I wanted some cornbread with dinner tonight, lo and behold this marvelous recipe! And I actually have all the ingredients in the house! I am looking forward to trying this. I did want to ask everyone out there though, for another cornbread recipe. While in Virginia I had some amazing sweet potato cornbread, and I can’t find any recipes for it. Help? It was moist and sweet from the veggies, and a beautiful orange gold color and my kids fell in love with it. Hope someone can help. Thanks.

    Reply
  7. Lee

    I LOVE that Cabot chipotle cheddar!!!!! But my grocery stopped carrying it. :( :( That cornbread looks fantastic, I bet it smells even better! I wish my computer had scratch-n-sniff! I have a bottle of chipotle chili powder, I wonder if that would give the same smokiness to the dish as that terrific cheese? What amount would you suggest – 1tsp? I bet it would go great with a “blue plate special” of sliced tomatoes, field peas and fried okra, mmmmmm! I would probably use about 1/2 teaspoon of the chipotle powder. Oh yeah, that blue palte special sounds good. Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  8. Nene

    My southern mama always heated her well-creased cast iron skillet in the oven to let it get hot before she poured in the cornbread batter. It made a deliciously crusty, crispy bottom. Mama knows best! Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  9. Jamie

    YUM! Would you make any adjustments to the other ingredients if you were to omit the cheese? Sadly, a cheese lover I am not. I think you could just omit the cheese without changing anything else. Try it and let us know. Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  10. Linda

    The recipe calls for “whole cornmeal.” Does this mean stone ground cornmeal? Recipe looks fantastic, can’t wait to try it. Thanks. Not necessarily stone ground, but one that is not labeled “degermed”. Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  11. jen

    I too recently fell in love with my cast iron skillet. This recipe looks amazing! Thanks for sharing. I love cornbread with bits and pieces in it!

    Reply
  12. ML

    I have been making a recipe very similar to this one for almost 35 years. Instead of using the red and green peppers, my recipe calls for chopped up pickled jalapenos (3 or 4 depending on your tastes). I live in South Texas so jalapenos have always been in our grocery stores. It gives it a great “punch” and great flavor. I want to try this one though because it is all cornmeal and my recipe has 2 1/2 c cornmeal with 1 c of Wondra flour.
    I like the idea that it is gluten free. Thx for the recipe.

    Reply
  13. Lish

    Susan H,
    Thank you so much! This sounds exactly like the flavor of the one we had. Can’t wait to try it! Orange butter also sounds like the perfect pair with it. Will let you know!

    Reply
  14. Lish

    This was awesome! I made it for breakfast with scrambled eggs and ham. Everyone loved it! And Susan H, the sweet potato cornbread was exactly what I was looking for! Thank you all for awesome recipes and help! In a few days I may just have to make corn bread pudding with all the leftovers!

    Reply
  15. Dick Dearden

    Tried this recipe and liked it very much.
    I made it in a 10″ square Corning casserole dish and it worked out well.
    It freezes and thaws well in the microwave too.
    Thanks a bunch!
    NOTE: Read all the comments regarding your parchment paper. I made sure we used parchment paper in every operation I ran for about 30 years.
    And, of course, it was always FLAT…and sheet pan size!
    I have ordered it locally in the past….may try yours.
    Dick

    Reply
  16. Denise Freitas

    Where have y’all been since the ’70′s? I’ve been making similar cornbread down here in the south since we got married in 1978. I use buttermilk instead of the cottage cheese, but corn, cheese, peppers and onions have been a staple in my cornbread recipe forever. In the south, flour in cornbread is a real no-no! Of course, my DH from Hawaii likes a bit of sugar in anything so I do add a pinch–some of the time, but not always. I love the “corn-zipper” though a well sharpened knife has always worked well for me. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Reply
  17. Melanie

    Looks delicious, does any one know what I can use to substitute the eggs? We have an egg allergy. I could try an egg replacer…..Hm…..

    Sure, Melanie, try the egg replacer. Let us know how it works out – PJH

    Reply
  18. Ryan

    I’m a single gal. I really want to try it, but hate to waste food…can this be frozen?

    Ryan, See Sara’s comment below – sounds like freezing works out fine. PJH

    Reply
  19. Sara Blauman

    This is by far the best corn bread I have ever eaten. The predominant flavor is corn – the peppers do not overpower it at all but they do add interest. I like my corn bread thick so I used an 8 x 8 non stick pan and it turned out perfect. This corn bread makes a great vegetarian main dish. I coupled it with pinto beans, salad, and scrambled eggs so I had three very different meals. I also froze half and then reheated in the microwave and it was just as good as it was the first time around.

    Reply
  20. deepa

    Wow! This is an amazing recipe – however, could you please let me know what can be used to substitte eggs? Commercial Egg replacer like Energee is not available where we live…. I have heard of may egg replacers, but not sure how best to substitute it with teh eggs called for by your recipe…

    Hi Deepa – Take a look at How to Replace Eggs in Your Cooking. Can’t vouch for any of the suggesitons, as I’ve never tried them, but it’s a good starting point for expeirmentation. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  21. Cindy Young

    This is an amazing recipe! I added crumbled, cooked sage sausage and left the cheese in small chunks. It made for yummy, gooey cheese pockets and savory goodness! I will put this on my menu as a breakfast offering – great to grab & go!

    Reply
  22. April in CT

    I JUST finished inhaling a slice and a half of this and it’s amazingly good! An excellent compliment to the chili we had. The corn flavor is just right with the onions lingering in the background. It wasn’t as dense as I thought it would be, which is fine by me. It could have been flat as a fritter and still been tasty! I can’t wait to try Cindy Young’s suggestion of sausage and chunks of cheese for a breakfast meal. Yum!

    Reply
  23. Julia

    I’ve had cornbread only once before and it was a sweet cornbread muffin at some catered dinner. I remember liking it, so I thought it would be fun to try this recipe coz it was a different version and all the ingredients look so yummy. Well, it is sort of yummy but they aren’t kidding about the dense part. It is quite rich and very dense (and I only added half the cheese) – a bit much for me. This was fun to try, but I think it has helped me discover that I am what they call “northern style” cornbread girl ;-)

    Reply
  24. Christine

    This may just be my new favorite cornbread. I substituted soy milk for the milk and didn’t have cottage cheese, so I used buttermilk (made from the dry powder) instead. I also don’t have a cast iron skillet but had great results in a nonstick 10″ skillet. I don’t usually like sweet cornbread, but the hint of sweetness in this (I used a bit less sugar) didn’t bother me. I’m looking forward to leftovers for breakfast today!
    Way to meet the baking challenges Christine. Have a great breakfast. :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  25. Shannon

    Any suggested substitutes for cottage cheese? I see some people have used buttermilk instead, but neither one of these ingredients is something I normally use, so I don’t want to be stuck with leftover cottage cheese or buttermilk in my fridge! Do you think plain yogurt or greek yogurt would work? What about sour cream?

    Shannon, I think sour cream or yogurt would work just fine. PJH

    Reply
  26. citlalnahuac

    Years ago, before they got taken over by Whole Foods, our local health-food chain sold what they called “Indian Corn Bread” in their deli, and I loved it. Whole Foods didn’t keep it in their products, and I moved away into a WF-free zone, anyway.

    The one I would get for dinner about once a week was very dense and had big chunks of carrots and other vegetables as well as corn and cheese. And for some reason, my mind associated it with India, not Native Americans, although there was no hint of curry or gram masala. But, at long last, this sounds really close!

    I sense experimentation in my future…

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      A quick check via Google didn’t result in any clues about that gone-but-not-forgotten Whole Foods corn bread. Hopefully you can tweak this recipe into a close clone of what you remember. Good luck! PJH

  27. Sue L.

    I grew up in Paraguay and this just brought back memories. I remember making this but didn’t have the recipe. I will have to try it again. The cheese is the only thing that might have been different. We used a Queso Fresco type of cheese. But I’ll try the Cabot cheese, sounds yummy! Thank you.

    Reply

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