Sancocho Colombiano: Colombian Soup


Welcome to the Expat Hospital.  Wow…this past week has been, well, less than stellar.  It started with my daughter getting sick on Monday.  I got the virus on Thursday, one of my dogs got sick on Friday, then the other one last night.  The only person spared, at the moment, is my boyfriend Paolo.  Let’s see how that goes!

So, the only thing that I was actually hungry for, was my mom’s Sancocho.  Sancocho is a dish that has variations all over South America and the Caribbean.  It originates from Spain and the Canary Islands, from Cocido, which means cooked.  Sancocho means parboiled.  This soup, or stew as some would call it, is not only delicious, but is ridiculously nutritious.  And so easy.  All you need is a very very big pot, and some time to peel and dice.  And then you boil.  In my family, we add pumpkin, yuca, green plantain, carrots, corn, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, scallions, cilantro….and some chicken and beef.  It makes a crazy good soup.  And of course, I remember my dad telling me that it was Jewish Penicillin.  So……this is what we have eaten ALL WEEK LONG in the expat household.  Or at least, I have.

So, since it is flu season and all that, why not share my super easy, super delicious, super healthy recipe of my mom’s Sancocho?  I am sure you will like it, and will cook it up even when you aren’t feeling under the weather!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

(Sorry, have no idea how many it serves and the ingredients are approximated, use more or less, depending on taste!)

5 chicken legs or thighs, skinned

200 g pork or beef ribs

1 onion, quartered

4 scallions

2 tomatoes, quartered

2 carrots, sliced

1 potato, cut into cubes

1/2 yuca or malanga, peeled and cut into chunks

1 plantain, cut into chunks

1 large slice of pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks

2 corn on the cob, cut into 4 pieces or 6 pieces

Cilantro, plus a tbsp of the leaves

1 tbsp vinegar (apple cider is best)

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Lime wedges, to serve

White rice, to go with if you want, in the soup or as a side

In a large stock pot, add all the ingredients up to the cilantro leaves (you want to add a couple of sprigs of cilantro).  Cover all of it with water and bring to a boil.

When the chicken is cooked and your vegetables are tender, add the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  Boil 5 minutes longer, and strain the broth into another pot.  Discard the scallions, tomatoes, onion, cilantro sprigs.  Return all the “eating” vegetables (carrots, potatoes, yuca, plantain, pumpkin and corn) plus the chicken and beef to the broth.

Serve in large bowls with a little bit of veggies and the meats for everyone.  Sprinkle with the cilantro and lime.  Eat while it’s hot, and sweat out that flu!

From my kitchen to yours,


Two “Bean” Salad with Corn, Avocado, Mango and Salsa Verde Vinaigrette

Again, after such a food extravaganza, my body was craving something delicious and healthy.  This Sunday, we had a barbecue at a friends’ house, and I was asked to prepare the side to her ribs.  Corn always comes into my mind, but I also wanted something that was healthy and colorful.  I feel that the more colors you put in a salad, the more nutrients you are giving your body.  I also knew I didn’t want your typical lettuce and tomato salad that is prevalent in almost every menu here.  It’s funny, Spaniards are not big on salads, and it baffles me that the variety of produce that you get here aren’t translated into a cornucopia of a salad bowl.

This “salad” was delicious, full of black beans, chickpeas, corn, cherry tomatoes, avocado, mango and then a slightly tangy Salsa Verde (made from tomatillos) vinaigrette, and some fresh cilantro.

Really easy to make, gorgeous to present, and you have a filling, healthy side to any lunch.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 6

1 can Black Beans, drained

1 can Chickpeas, drained

1 small can Corn, drained

1 avocado, diced

1 large slice mango, diced

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tbsp cilantro, chopped

For the vinaigrette:

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp salsa verde

Juice of 1 lime

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

Fresh ground Pepper

Just mix all the ingredients, except for the avocado if you aren’t serving immediately.  When you are ready to serve, then dice and mix in the avocado, if not it gets all brown.  And it’s that easy!

From my kitchen to yours,


Caramelized Onion and Corn Soup with Thyme

One of the things I miss most about living in the States is fresh corn.   Ok, ok, I miss a lot of food items that can be found in the States, be it fresh or fast or packaged.  But corn…..I love corn, in all ways, on the cob, creamed, canned, grilled, in chowder,  salads, salsa, as a tortilla, chip, arepa…..the list goes on and on.  It must be my Colombian heritage, because corn is in practically everything we eat.

In Barcelona, you can’t get good, fresh, corn.  I am sad.  I also don’t have a terrace with a barbecue, that makes me even sadder.  But, one thing that makes me happy is my itsy bitsy herb “garden”.  (I know it isn’t a garden, since it’s on my itsy bitsy balcony, but hey, a girl can dream right?)

So I decided, since the days are longer and warmer, to make a corn soup, to pay homage to my homeland.  The good ‘ole US of A.  Oh, and the whole my herb garden makes me happy bit is because I was staring at them and said, corn, thyme….YUM! Unfortunately it was this horrible packaged, pre-boiled corn, so if you can find fresh corn, then I am sure sure sure yours will be like a gazillion times better than mine.  Ok, it’s not that bad.  I just feel like complaining to the corn farmers here.

Anyhow, here is a nice and simple recipe that highlights one of my favorite ingredients, Corn!

Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine

Caramelized Onion and Corn Soup with Thyme

Serves 4

1.5 liters water

4 ears of corn, shucked

1.5 tbs butter

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 tsp sugar

1 small potato, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup white wine

1 sprig of thyme, and more leaves for garnish

1/4 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring the water to boil in a large pot, and add the corn, cook around 5 minutes.  Cut the kernels off the cob once the corn has cooled.  Return the cobs to the water, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Discard cobs and reserve the corn broth.

In another pot, melt 1 tbsp of the butter, and add the onions.  Cover and cook over med heat until they are softened, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.  Add the sugar and cook another 5 minutes, or until they are caramelized.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the corn kernels, and add the remaining kernels and potato to the pot with the onions.  Add the wine and simmer over medium high heat until almost evaporated.  Add the corn broth, thyme and heavy cream, cover and simmer until the potato is tender, about 10 minutes.

Discard thyme.  With an immersion blender, or regular, puree soup, and season with salt and pepper.

In a skillet, melt the remaining butter, and add the reserved corn and cook over med high heat, until nicely browned.  Season with salt and your reserved thyme leaves.  Ladle the soup in bowls or mugs, and top with the browned corn and thyme.

From my kitchen to yours,