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Gizo Recipe: Costa Rican Cheese and Squash Soup

Updated on August 6, 2012
The finished hearty soup.
The finished hearty soup. | Source

Pipian Squash

Young pipian squash.
Young pipian squash. | Source
The inside of a young pipian squash.  The seeds are soft so you don't have to remove them.  Neither do you need to peel the skin off.
The inside of a young pipian squash. The seeds are soft so you don't have to remove them. Neither do you need to peel the skin off. | Source
Chop the pipian fine into little squares.
Chop the pipian fine into little squares. | Source

A Soup Main Dish

When I came to Costa Rica four years ago (2008), I sampled several new tasty dishes. In particular, several of the soups got my attention: olla de carne, arroz de maiz and gizo. Gizo is my favorite of the three. It is a white soup made from two types of cheeses, milk and a white summer squash called pipian. This soup is always a treat, and I recently watched an expert do her thing with it - so I can share it with you now.


  • 1 onion, medium, chopped fine
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 red sweet pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter, salted or unsalted
  • 4 cups milk, 2%
  • 8 cups pipian squash, chopped
  • 2 cups sour cream, normal or light
  • 3 cups white cheese, soft, immature cheese made in Costa Rica
  • 3 cups dry cheese, a smoked cheese made in Costa Rica
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch, for thickening the soup
  • salt, to taste
  • white pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano, or more to taste

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 30 min
Yields: 6-8 servings


  1. Chop up the pipian, onions, sweet pepper and garlic.
  2. Melt the butter in a large soup pot and add the chopped up onions, sweet pepper and garlic. Fry for 3 - 5 minutes.
  3. Add the milk and then the pipian squash. Bring to a simmer and cook until the pipian is tender.
  4. Add the sour cream and cheese. Cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the salt, pepper and oregano.
  6. Add the cornstarch and stir until the soup thickens. It is then ready to serve.
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories 407
Calories from Fat288
% Daily Value *
Fat 32 g49%
Saturated fat 20 g100%
Unsaturated fat 1 g
Carbohydrates 10 g3%
Sugar 35 g
Fiber 1 g4%
Protein 22 g44%
Cholesterol 80 mg27%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Nutrition Notes

Values for fats were calculated using butter, not low-fat margarine or an oil substitute. Full-fat sour cream is also used. Lowering of fat values can be done by using light margarine and low-fat sour cream. You can also chase this down with a glass of wine as a fat antidote.

Serving of Gizo

Costa Ricans (costarricenses, or ticos for short) like to serve their soups with rice. So, you can lower your intake of the soup and make it last longer if you put a cup of rice in your bowl and pour this over it. Rice and this soup go together very well. This will also reduce your fat intake to 50% of the daily value if you put half a cup over rice.

Serving gizo over rice and having it as a side dish can also be done. A side serving of steamed broccoli would go very well with the soup and rice and it will increase the vitamin and fiber value of the meal. Add a piece of chicken if you feel you need more protein.

Recommended Substitutions

Squash. I have never seen pipian squash in the United States, but there is no reason why you couldn't use any summer squash in the recipe as a substitute. Just make sure it is an immature squash that has soft seeds. Or, if you only have older squash, scoop out the seeds. And if the peel is tough, take that off as well.

Cheeses. You should be able to find a white cheese that can substitute for the immature cheese. Don't use a cheese that gets all stringy like mozzarella. I have seen Mexican cheeses in many of the large supermarkets and you may also ask if they have that also as a smoked, or dried cheese. The dried cheese is usually smoked to make it loose moisture, so it has a smokey taste. The texture of the cheese is such that it crumbles, as seen in the photo of the cheese mixture above. The immature cheese cuts nicely into cubes, and it doesn't melt very much.

Rate This Recipe!

5 stars from 1 rating of Gizo Soup

More Recipes from Costa Rica

  1. Gallo Pinto - rice and beans
  2. Recipes Using Lime Juice: Ceviche and more.
  3. Recipes Using Star Fruit
  4. Chicken with a Savory Sauce Made from Winter Squash (Ayote)


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    • Randy M. profile image

      Randy McLaughlin 5 years ago from Liberia, Costa Rica

      Shiningirisheyes - it looks like I did my job well, then.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      So many delicious ingredients. You are making me hungry.

    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 5 years ago from Southwest England

      sounds delicious, I must try this one day - thanks for the recipe :)

    • Randy M. profile image

      Randy McLaughlin 5 years ago from Liberia, Costa Rica

      Patty-pan squash would be perfect. For the cheese substitutions, I think ricotta would work fine for the immature cheese, but to get the dried cheese flavor, you might want to add Parmesan or a similar cheese as well (but don't add near as much, perhaps up to 1/2 cup).

    • profile image

      win-winresources 5 years ago from Colorado


      What about patty pan (oyster) squash and ricotta cheese? Sounds good.