Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sancocho de Gallina Colombiano

Mi sopa favorita

One of my favorite Colombian dishes and comfort foods is this fabulous chicken stew, Sancocho. When I was living and teaching in Santa Marta, Colombia, on the Caribbean coast, I ate this soup at least once a week. The little restaurant to the left of my building on Calle 9 con carrera 2 en El Rodadero, used to have it pretty much as a daily special. It was also a big deal when it was made in the cafeteria at our school Colegio Bureche, or a special treat for teachers on inservice days. I will also never forget years back, when a number of family members came to my in-laws home in Bogotá for Semana Santa. Mi suegra (mother in-law), and the aunts and cousins were in the kitchen all day,  preparing this dish. They had two whole plucked, headless, chickens, feet and all,  and were holding them over the flame on the kitchen stove. In an enormous pot, went the number of ingredients, the pungent smell filling the air.  Mmm… a bowl of sancocho, arepas, white rice, and a glass of tomate de árbol en leche (tree tomatoes: one of many delicious, exotic fruits grown in Colombia used to make juice), I still dream about meals like that one.  Sancochar in Spanish means to parboil. I guess you can almost equate this to a New England Boil Supper, Latin style. Full of flavor and goodies, the sweetness of the plátanos (plantains), the saltiness of the broth, the tang of the lime and the flavor of the just have to keep coming back for more. 

Ingredients ~ Los ingredientes

Traditionally you use a whole chicken to make Sancocho. Using         leftovers from a roast chicken works great too, and that is usually how I make it. However, there are times when I am craving this soup, and I just start from scratch.

Serves 6-8
Prep and cooking time: about an hour

  • 2 split breasts, skin on bone in or 3 chicken thighs, skin on bone in
  • 1 sweet onion, diced 
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 medium yucca root, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch crescents 
  • 1 ripe plantain (yellow and bruised) or green can also work, but won't be sweet
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3 celery stalks diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, washed and chopped
  • a few sprigs of cilantro for garnish
  • 2 ears of corn, husked and cut into 3rds
  • 3 tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 2 limes
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 avocado
  • Step 1:

    With all your vegetables washed, prepped and ready to go, add the olive oil to a large pot, and heat on low. Add in the onions increase heat to med-high and sauté until slightly soft, about 2 minutes.

    Add the celery and sauté another 2-3 minutes. Add in the yucca and the potatoes along with 2 cups of water. Bring to a slight boil. Add in the salt and the garlic. Reduce the Let simmer for about 5 minutes.

    Step 2:

    Add the remaining 6 cups of water. When the water has come to a boil, add in the chicken, 1/2 cup cilantro, pepper, and the juice from one lime. Let cook on a low boil for about 10-15 minutes. 

    Step 3: 

    Add in the carrot and the plantain. Let cook another 10 minutes, or until the plantain becomes puffy and soft. At this point I remove the chicken, and let it cool slightly on a plate, and then remove the meat from the bone, I put the meat and the bone back into the soup. 

    Step 4: 

    Add in the corn, and let cook another 10 minutes or so. 

    Serving the soup

    Be sure to remove any bones. 

    Serve the soup in a bowl, and top with slices of avocado, chopped cilantro and a lime wedge. It is best accompanied by a bowl of white rice, and fresh arepas 
    (For those of you who don't know what these are, they are the Venezuelan or Colombian variation of a corn tortilla, amazing, I will follow up on that another day). 

    ¡Buen provecho! 

    Tradicionalmente usa la gallina entera para preparar la sopa. Generalmente yo uso las partes dejadas del día anterior, cuando preparo un pollo del horno. Pero aveces el antojo me llama y empiezo de cero.

    Receta para 6 – 8 personas
    Tiempo de preparación: 1 hora

    • 2 pechugas con el cuero y hueso o 3 perniles con cuero y hueso
    • 1 cebolla dulce, picada
    • 2 dientes de ajo, picado
    • 1 libra de yucca, pelada y cortado en trozos
    • 1 plátano maduro o verde, cortado en trozos
    • 2 papas medianas, peladas y cortadas en cubos
    • 2 zanahorias medianas, peladas y cortadas en rebanadas
    • 3 troncos de apio, picados
    • 1/2 taza de cilantro, lavado y picado finamente
    • hojas de cilantro
    • 2 mazorcas, cortados en 3 pedazos
    • 3 cucharadas de aceite de oliva
    • 1 cucharadita de sal
    • 1/4 cucharadita de pimienta
    • 1/2 cucharadita de oregano
    • 2 limones
    • 8 tazas de agua
    • 1 aguacate

    Paso 1:

    Con todos las verduras lavadas y preparadas, pon el aceite en una olla grande y calienta a fuego bajo. Agrega las cebollas y saltea a fuego medio por 2 minutos. 

    Agrega el apio, y cocina otro 2-3 minutos. Agrega la yucca y las papas, seguidas por 2 tazas de agua. Pon a hervir. Cocina por 5 minutos. 

    Paso 2:

    Agrega las otras 6 tazas de agua. Cuando se pone a hervir, agrega el pollo, 1/2 taza de cilantro, la pimienta y el jugo de un limón. Cocina por 10-15 minutos.

    Paso 3:

    Pon la zanahoria y plátano. Cocina 10 minutos, o hasta el plátano está blandito. A mí me gusta quitar el pollo de la olla, y quitarlo del hueso. Primero, déjalo enfriar un poco. Cuando la carne está suelta, pon la carne y los huesos en la sopa otra vez.

    Paso 4:

    Agrega la mazorca y cocina 10 minutos.

    A servir la sopa

    Quita los huesos antes la sirves. Pon la sopa en la taza. Termina con aguacate rebanadas del aguacate, cilantro picado y una porción de limón. Sirve con arroz blanco y arepas medianas.

    ¡Buen provecho!


    1. OK - so when are you coming home to prepare this amazing sounding soup for us to try (pescatarian style please)? Absolutely sounds fabulous.

    2. I love, love, love Sancocho, thanks for sharing the recipe. I am ready to try it today, yum!

    3. I made this tonight. Yum! Used stock instead of water AND forgot the oregano. Still delicious. I pinned the recipe. It's fun following your new blog Karina. The recipes are good, as are the photos, but I really love the stories.