Sancocho is a traditional Latin American soup that is comforting, hearty and rustic. We love to make it and eat it at home at least once a week. Being born in Panama to a Colombian mother, I grew up eating Sancocho all the time and now my children are too, it’s safe to say this dish is a special tradition in my family.
Over the years we’ve changed bits and pieces of the recipe. I prefer a more orange tone to the soup with lots of butternut squash, some sweet potato and less of the regular potato that it typically calls for. This makes the dish a little lighter but at the same time, the squash thickens the soup as it falls apart.
While this recipe makes 6 servings, I usually double it because somebody always wants Sancocho leftovers for lunch the next day. We hope you enjoy this tasty and satisfying dish as much as we do!
- 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 large yellow onions, quartered
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut up into 3-inch pieces
- 2 lbs. beef flank and ribs, cut into large pieces, with bone
- 3 1/2 cups cilantro, chopped (3 cups for cooking and 1/2 cup for serving)
- 14 cups chicken broth, homemade or use bouillon cubes and combine with water to create a broth base for the soup
- 4-5 small red or white potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1-2 small sweet potatoes, diced
- 1 1/2 lbs. small red or white potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 3 cups pumpkin or butternut squash, diced
- 8, 3-inch long, pieces of fresh or frozen yuca
- 2 ripe plantains, cut into 3-inch long pieces (we like to keep the peel on to keep the plantain from falling apart when cooking)
- 4 ears of corn, husked and quartered
- Cooked white rice for serving
- 1 medium avocado, peeled and sliced for serving
- In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir with a wooden spoon, cook for 2 minutes to extract flavor. Add the onion and stir for about 5 minutes, until transparent. Add the carrots and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring. Add the beef ribs and cook for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the cilantro. Add the chicken stock little by little, stirring and loosening the sticky, flavorful garlic and onion on the bottom of the pot. Add more stock and stir until all is used.
- Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered for about 30 minutes. Add all the potatoes (regular and sweet), pumpkin or squash, corn, yuca and plantains. Simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 35-45 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you feel you need more flavor you can always add a bouillon cube or powder to season the soup.
- You can cook it faster on higher heat until all the vegetables are tender, but the Sancocho is best when simmered in low heat for about 2 hours, then let it rest and reheat it when ready for serving. Don’t be afraid to add more liquid if you lose too much while simmering. This is not a recipe that can go wrong; it does not have to be exact measurements and you don’t have to use all of the root vegetables. Some people prefer no potato and more yuca; others don’t like sweet potato and only use regular potato. You can make it with beef or chicken. Feel free to play around with it.
- The soup is served in large bowls. At our house what usually happens is that everyone goes to the pot and serves themselves because they like to dig into the pot and look for the vegetable they want- some want more yuca than others, some don’t want potatoes, others don’t like to eat the cooked carrots. It becomes a pick and choose fest! We all like to sprinkle the fresh cilantro in our bowls. We serve white rice on the side, sliced avocado, lemon and some spicy ahi.