Colombian Sancocho is the more popular version of the famous Sancocho. It features a deeply flavorful broth with corn, beef, and pork ribs, and aromatic veggies like green onions and garlic in it.
History of Sancocho
Essentially, Sancocho is a Latin spin on a traditional Spanish soup called Cocido. Therefore, it is believed to have been invented in the Canary Islands, a Spanish territory located near Morroco.
Cocido is very similar to sancocho in that it contains several types of meats and root vegetables like potatoes. However, Cocido also contains parsnips, chickpeas, cabbage, and carrots. Some versions of Cocido also include eggs and cheese, which are added to the soup just before serving.
Interestingly enough, the Canary Islands also have their own version of the Sancocho. After all, they are the inventors of it. However, unlike the Sancocho in Latin countries, the Canary Island Sancocho consists of fish and plantain.
The Latin American Sancocho is a hybrid of both the Cocido and the Canary Island Sancocho. Sancocho can also be found in El Salvador, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Argentina, and many other Latin countries.
Columbians serve sancocho with rice and avocados. However, Sancocho Colombiano is not complete without the hot Ají Picante, a hot sauce made from peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and onions.
How To Store Sancocho Colombiano
You can easily store this Sancocho in the fridge or freezer. To store it in the fridge, let it cool completely.
You can speed up the cooling process by dividing the Sancocho between airtight containers. The smaller portions will cool faster compared to one big batch.
Once cooled, place the lids on the containers and place them in the fridge. These Sancocho portions will then last for 4-5 days.
If you’re freezing your Sancocho, again, let it cool completely. Place the leftovers into a freezer-safe airtight container, label it with today’s date, and store it in the freezer.
You can also freeze the Sancocho in ziplock bags. However, with ziplock bags, you need to make sure you are pressing all the air out before sealing and freezing them. Frozen Sancocho will last for 3 months.
How To Reheat Sancocho
To reheat the Sancocho, place a portion of it into a bowl and heat it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Depending on how much Sancocho you are reheating, you can also place it in a pot and heat it over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes.
If you are reheating frozen sancocho, it’s best to thaw it in the fridge overnight. The sancocho will reheat more evenly if it is properly thawed.
Sancocho Colombiano Ingredients
Although there are some variations, the main ingredients in a traditional Sancocho are always the same. Every Sancocho must have corn, vegetables, meat, and fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley.
Water: Water helps thin out the marinade for a smoother texture. Without the water, the marinade would be a giant clumpy mess. Water is also the liquid of choice for the Sancocho. However, you can use chicken broth or beef broth as the cooking liquid as well.
Onion: Onions add a subtle sweetness to the marinade, as well as a robust umami flavor.
Garlic: Garlic adds a robust flavor that gets sweeter as it cooks in the Sancocho.
Scallions-:Scallions add a peppery, rich flavor to the marinade.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes add an acidic flare to the Sancocho, which contrasts beautifully with the savory flavors. Average tomatoes work well. However, if you are using smaller tomatoes, such as Roma tomatoes, it may be best to add 4-6 tomatoes to the marinade instead of 2.
Salt: Salt boosts the flavor of the marinade and the Sancocho making it taste irresistibly delicious.
Black Pepper: Black pepper adds depth and a peppery flavor to the Sancocho.
Cumin: Cumin adds an earthy, slightly spicy flavor to the Sancocho.
Beef Ribs: Beef ribs add a meaty flavor to the Sancocho. It also serves as the base of the soup broth since it is the first meat to go in. In addition to this, the beef ribs are cooked for 40 minutes which gives it lots of time to infuse the water with beefy flavor.
Corn: Corn adds a burst of sweetness as well as some much-needed texture.
Chicken Leg: Ideally you should use chicken legs for a Sancocho but chicken thighs can work as well.
Pork Ribs: Pork ribs add a rich, slightly fatty flavor to the Sancocho.
Potatoes: Potatoes soak up the tasty flavor of the other ingredients in the soup.
Cassava: Cassava adds a nutty flavor to the Sancocho and works along with the plantain to thicken the soup.
Plantain: Typically, green plantains are used for Sancocho. However, for this Sancocho Colombiano, we are using ripe plantains. The ripe plantains add a sweet flavor while the starch from the plantains thickens up the broth.
Cilantro: Cilantro adds a light floral and citrus flavor to the Sancocho, which cuts through the richness of the dish.
How to make the perfect Sancocho Colombiano?
You start by marinating your protein for 15-20 minutes to help build flavor. Add the marinated protein to a pot and add marinating liquid and water to it. Bring to a boil before adding the chicken legs, vegetables, and spices. Vegetables with a longer cooking time go in first and cook for a while before the softer vegetables. Cook for 40 minutes until everything is tender and the soup has thickened.
Serve in deep bowls with white rice, bread, or fresh green salad, and enjoy the flavors and depth of Colombian cuisine. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge and easily reheated in the microwave.
What is the difference between Sancocho and Caldo?
Essentially, they are the same dishes with meats and vegetables all immersed in a broth. The main difference is the base vegetables and the combinations of the ingredients that are in the dish. Sancocho usually has Plantain and Yuca while Caldo does not.
Does Sancocho have cultural symbolism in Colombia?
In terms of the literal meaning of the word, Sancocho denotes that something special is taking place, whether that is at the dinner table or alongside the river. In terms of culture, Colombians enjoy Sancocho on Saturdays at lunchtime stretching a few pieces of meat to feed a family of 10 or 12 easily.
What are the best side dishes to serve with Sancocho Colombiano?
Sancocho Colombiano is traditionally served with white rice, Aji Picante, and avocados. Aji Picante is a spicy sauce that elevates the flavor of the whole dish. You can also serve this dish with different types of bread, white or brown. You can serve a green salad or fried tortilla crisps as well depending on what you desire.
Can I use any other type of protein in my Sancocho Colombiano?
Traditionally, Colombians make Sancocho Colombiano with beef and pork ribs and chicken legs. You can, however, easily use any other types of protein that you want. Use veal, other cuts of chicken, and even seafood when making this dish. You can also skip the meat altogether but that might change the texture, taste, and consistency of the dish.
What are some tips to make the perfect Sancocho Colombiano?
One of the first tips to make the perfect Sancocho is to prep in advance. Cut and chop the vegetables and clean and prep the meat. Another tip is to give your broth enough time to develop flavor. The last part is to plan in advance and add ingredients depending on how much time they take to cook.
Do I need to use fresh corn?
You could use frozen corn but I would suggest using fresh corn, even if it’s out of season. It tastes better and absorbs flavor better as well.
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For the Marinade;
- 1/3 cup Water
- 1 large Onion, cut into cubes
- 3 cloves of Garlic
- 2 Scallions
- 2 Tomatoes, cut into cubes
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Cumin
For the Sancocho;
- 6 1/2 cups Water
- 4 Beef ribs, cleaned, trimmed of fat, and cut in half
- 2 ears of Corn, cut in half
- 1 tsp Salt
- 4 Chicken legs
- 4 Pork ribs, cut into small pieces
- 4 medium Potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 Cassava, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 medium ripe Plantain, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 bunch of Cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Cumin
- To make the marinade, place the onions, garlic, scallions, tomatoes, water, salt, pepper, and cumin into a blender and blend the mixture for 1 minute. Set it aside.
- Put the beef in a bowl and add some salt and 2 tablespoons of the marinade. Set it aside for 20 minutes at room temperature. Put the chicken legs into a separate bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the marinade, and place them in the fridge (take them out 15 minutes before you want to use them).
- Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the marinated beef and cook it for 10 minutes, don’t forget to stir it a few times to prevent sticking.
- Then, add the rest of the marinade with ½ cup of water and let it covert into steam for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, cut all the vegetables into big chunks and set them aside.
- In the pot with the beef, add 5 cups of water, the chicken legs, cilantro and corn. Cook for 25 more minutes.
- Now you can add the rest of the vegetables. Add the cassava, plantain, 2 adobe chicken seasoning cubes, and cumin. Leave it to cook for 40 more minutes until it starts to thicken.
- Once the Sancocho has thickened up and everything is tender, take it out and place it in a serving bowl.
- Serve with rice, bread, or a fresh green salad, and enjoy!