South America is in the middle of winter right now, and cold days call for something warm, nurturing and comforting. This immediately brings one dish to my mind, and feeling nostalgic about it is inevitable. The delicious meal I’m thinking about is called sancochado, a hearty soup consisting of many ingredients and parts to it that have charmed Peruvian palates for decades.
Some say sancochado is a variation of some Spanish soups, like cocido or olla podrida. Whatever the story behind it, Limeños embraced this dish with such a passion, that having sancochado for lunch was -and still is- a huge event. When it first became popular, people used to make it with 12 meats, including beef, pork -fresh and smoked-, sausages, poultry, and there’s not enough space here to name the whole list. Root vegetables, and cabbage were cooked in separate saucepans, sometimes with rice and garbanzo beans. In more recent years the vegetables have remained but the meats have been reduced to one or two kinds, as health conscious Peruvians don´t dare to eat like their predecessors.
To serve sancochado, place the vegetables, garbanzos (if using), and meats in a large serving plate. Strain the flavorful broth and serve in consomé or soup bowls, accompanied by slices of lime. Several sauces are served at the same time. You may choose huancaina sauce, salsa criolla, rocoto or aji amarillo sauces, among many others. Some restaurants make a big event around their sancochados and their famous sauces, which are usually the specialty on Sundays. Yet another reason to not want Mondays to come so soon…
- 2 pounds beef chuck roast, boneless
- 5 celery ribs, cut in three parts
- 3 carrots, cut in three parts
- 2 onions, cut in half
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 sprig fresh hierbabuena
- 2 corn ears, cooked
- 2 sweet potatoes, cooked and cut in thick slices
- 4 potatoes, peeled and cut in half
- 1 pound yucca, peeled and cut in thick slices
- 1 medium cabbage, cut in six parts lengthwise
- Huancaina sauce
- Salsa criolla
- Put the meat, celery, carrot and onion in a saucepan with water to cover, and the lid on, over high heat. Add salt pepper, oregano and hierbabuena. Bring to a boil and turn the heat to medium low. Simmer for 2.5 hours until the meat is fork tender, skimming every now and then.
- When the corn and sweet potatoes are tender, let them cool, and cut the corn in three parts and the sweet potatoes in two parts.
- When the meat is fork tender add the potatoes, and yucca, and cook for about 20 more minutes until the vegetables are tender too. Add cabbage and cook for 5 more minutes. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper, to taste.
- Place the meat and vegetables in a serving plate and strain the broth, serving it in a soup bowl.