Colombian Beef Sancocho

In the midst of a cold snowy February, we invited our customers to share a soup recipe or story as part of the Great Cambridge Soup-OffWe received so many stories about how our customers have thawed from the Winter chill and the following is the winning entry.

Colombian Beef Sancocho
by Mary-Ann Matyas

A beef and vegetable soup that simmers for a long time!

My parents are Colombian immigrants, and while I was born in NYC, the language, culture and food of Colombia was the dominant one in my household. 

One winter, when I was eight years old, there was a huge snow storm during the day. My mother and I had an important appointment and found ourselves with no other choice but to dig out the car from a mound of snow engulfing it. It took some time, but with perseverance, we’d cleared the car and were ready to go. By then we were so cold, we went back inside the apartment to warm up and gather our things. My mother had a big pot of sancocho on the stove and we each helped ourselves to a cup - to fortify us and warm us up. To this day, that cup of soup ranks as the most delicious cup of soup I have ever had!

Salt (Curio's note: start with 1 tsp)
Pepper, cumin and paprika to taste
2 pounds beef brisket or top skirt
1 large onion, diced
2 large green plantains, peeled and diced
3 medium russet or idaho potatoes, diced
2 cups yucca root, peeled and diced
3 ears of corn, shucked and chopped into thirds
8-10 cups beef broth or water
A handful of fresh cilantro, rinsed and roughly chopped
A handful of fresh culantro (check Latin specialty groceries)

Season & sear the beef Set a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Season the beef liberally with salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika. Sear the beef in the pot until all sides are deeply browned. Transfer the seared beef to a plate and set aside.

Start the sancocho Add the diced onions, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the pot, then cook lightly translucent. Return the beef to the pot and add the cubed plantains, potatoes, yucca, and enough broth or water to cover. Top with cilantro and culantro, then cover and bring the sancocho to a boil.

Begin simmering Once the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Check the sancocho to ensure the vegetables don't stick to the bottom of the pot and that there's enough liquid to cover all the ingredients.

Continue simmering After 1 hour and 45 minutes of simmering, add the corn and continue to simmer. After 2.5-3 hours, check the meat for "doneness." You can also speed up cooking time by cutting meat into smaller pieces.

Shred the beef Once the meat is done, transfer it to a plate and set aside until it is cool enough for you to shred it. While meat cools, continue to simmer soup. Taste the soup and season with salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika as needed. Using two forks, shred the beef and return to the pot. Cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes, then serve immediately with cooked rice, sliced avocados, or onions pickled in red wine vinegar & salt.


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