SANCOCHO (Vegetable, Roots & Plantain Soup)
by Terry Hope Romero
Sancocho is a big, comforting soup that features delectable chunks of vegetables, root vegetables, and yuca—long simmered until the broth is gently thickened and rendered sweet and mild. Whole pieces of corn on the cob make this soup visually interesting and fun to eat. A little hot white rice on the side is just the thing, if you're in need of something extra.
There's room for variation when using potatoes, green plantains, or other Latin root vegetables such as ñame (pronounced nyah-meh) or anything that falls under the huge category of "yam" (yautia in Spanish). In New York City, these tropical root vegetables can often be found in even the most humble supermarket for prices that rival that of potatoes, making it easy to experiment and try something new.
Serves at least 6
Time: About 1 hour, most of that being inactive while the soup simmers.
• 2 tablespoons olive oil or peanut oil
• 2 tablespoons Annatto-lnfused Oil
• 1 hot chile or habanero pepper (optional)
• 1 large leek, well washed, trimmed, and sliced into thin rings
• 4 shallots, sliced into thin rings
• 1 large red onion, sliced in half and cut into 1/4-inch semicircles
• 6 green onions, white part separated from green, both parts chopped into 1/4-inch slices
• 2 teaspoons dried oregano
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/2 pound yuca, peeled and sliced into 1-inch rounds, then into quarters
• 1 large carrot, sliced into very thin rounds, about 1/8 inch
• 1 pound calabaza pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
• 1/2 pound tropical tuber, such as name or waxy or green plantains, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
• 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced, or 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
• 2 ears of corn on the cob, cut into 2-inch pieces (a total of 8 to 10 pieces)
• 6 cups well-seasoned vegetable broth or bouillon
• 6 sprigs fresh thyme
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 to 2 cups reconstituted TVP, sauteed seitan, or frozen fava beans, lima beans, or chickpeas (optional)
• 3 tablespoons lime juice
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil, Annatto-lnfused Oil, chile pepper, leek, shallots, onions, and white part of the green onions over medium-high heat (set aside green parts for later). Stirring, cook until the onions and leek are tender, about 6 minutes. Add the oregano, cumin, carrots, yuca, pumpkin, tubers, tomatoes, corn, vegetable broth, thyme, and bay leaves. If using fava beans or TVP, add here as well. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and bring the soup to a simmer.
2. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the root vegetables and pumpkin are very tender. Turn off the heat and season the soup with lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in the cilantro and reserved green part of the green onions before serving. Include a chunk of corn cob in each bowl of soup; to eat it, just scoop it up with your spoon, grab, and eat!
Tip: For a boost of protein, I like to toss in 1 to 2 cups of reconstituted TVP or sauteed seitan. Or frozen green fava beans (not traditional, but this large, meaty bean goes great with the hearty veggies) or even chickpeas.