Vegan “Sancocho” (Root Stew)

Vegan sancocho (root stew)

Vegan Sancocho? Do you know what a sancocho is? If so, I know what you’re thinking: “if it’s vegan, then it isn’t sancocho”. After all the recipe in our blog is called a “seven meat-stew“. You can hardly get any more carnivorous than that, short of chasing and killing your own prey.

I love sancocho, but I’m not a really big fan of meat, so I deconstructed the dish and adapted it to my own liking. Let the fun begin!

Vegan sancocho

When I told our readers on Facebook and Twitter that I was working on a vegan sancocho recipe some of the reactions were the complete opposite of each other.

One follower commented: “If it doesn’t have meat, it’s not a sancocho. It’s a vegetable soup!!”. For the opposite side we get “Sancocho is totally vegetarian — just take out the meat!”. Another hilariously replied “Sounds good to me […] it’s only my hubby is not open minded with anything as sacred as his sancocho”.

I threaten to start a holy war between the Orthodox Sancocho-Lovers and the Reform Vegetarian Sancocho-Lovers.

Vegan sancocho

The truth is, I didn’t come up with the concept. I’ve been eating vegetarian and vegan sancocho for decades.

For some odd reason, I once found myself employed by a company with a higher percentage of vegans than should be normal. There were four of us (I was a vegan back then), in a company that employed about a dozen people. The rest were unapologetically carnivorous.

One of my workmates (hi Alex!) introduced me to vegetarian sancocho, which she made with seitan, a gluten-based meat substitute. I loved it. A few years ago I posted my version of Alex’s sancocho, which was pretty-well received.

Vintage scale

So, why reinvent the wheel and create a completely different vegan sancocho recipe?

I am not particularly fond of seitan, and I find the process of making it a little too cumbersome. Plus, nowadays a lot of people have been diagnosed with celiac disease, or gluten intolerance, which was pretty obscure when I first posted the recipe. I wanted to create one that has a wider appeal.

Vegan sancocho

So what make this soup a sancocho?

Protein, lots of carbohydrate-rich vegetables (taro, cassava, yam, plantains) and strong flavors.

By adding yellow split peas to the soup we get the thick, yellowish stew and the protein, the roots and vegetables typical of this dish are present, and for some meat-like texture I have added dry mushrooms, which you can buy or just make yourself (the process is described in the preparation).

I hope you enjoy it!

Aunt Clara
Vegan "Sancocho" Recipe (Root and Vegetable Stew)
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For the vegans and vegetarians who still love their sancocho I've created a simple vegan sancocho that is hearty and filling, just like the original.
Serves: 6 servings
  • 1 cup (about 2 oz) of dry mushrooms (see notes)
  • 4 qrts of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of yellow split peas
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ lb of cassava (yuca), peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 4 sweet peppers (ajíes dulces), crushed (optional)
  • ¼ lb of malanga
  • ¼ lb of West Indies pumpkin (auyama)
  • 1 unripe plantain cut into ½" slices
  • ¼ lb of white yam (taro)
  • 1 corn on the cob, cut into ½" slices (optional)
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • A bunch of cilantro and parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of dry oregano leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Spicy bitter orange vinegar to serve (optional)
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic, sweet pepper, orégano and split peas.
  3. Cook and stir for a few seconds.
  4. Add 1 qrt of vegetable broth. Cover and lower temperature.
  5. Simmer until the split peas are very soft. Add more broth and stir when it becomes necessary.
  6. Add the dry mushrooms, carrot, cassava, malanga, plantain, pumpkin, taro and corn.
  7. Add the remaining broth (or water if you used all the broth already) til it covers all the vegetables.
  8. Simmer covered over medium heat until all the vegetables and roots are cooked through.
  9. Chop the cilantro and parsley and add to the pot.
  10. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Serve with bitter orange vinegar on the side and accompany with white rice.
I used dry porcini mushrooms, which are available commercially, or you can make yourself.

To make the dry mushrooms, wash and pat-dry ¼ lb big porcini mushrooms. Place on a oiled baking pan, sprinkle with salt and cook in the oven at 200 ºF for one hour. Remove from the oven. Cool to room temperature and cut into "spoon-sized" pieces.

You need a 6 qrt pot or bigger.
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{ 14 comments… add one }

  • Slane November 24, 2014, 10:52 AM

    This may be a silly question, but do I precook any of the ingredients before using in the stew, such as the corn on the cob or the split peas?

    And secondly, any ideas where I might buy some of these ingredients that standard grocery stores may not carry (e.g., malanga, taro, west indies pumpkin, etc.)? Thank you in advance! I really would like to make this!

    • Aunt Clara November 30, 2014, 7:41 PM

      Everything cooks together as it simmers. You can try to find these at Latino, Caribbean, Asian or African stores. Meaning, stores that cater to these communities.

  • Jane October 26, 2014, 10:38 AM

    Thank you so much for the recipe!! I made it yesterday for my husband, who hasn’t have sancocho ever since he became a vegetarian! He loved it!! This is just the perfect carb loaded dish he need in prepare of his marathon this week!! Fyi, I skipped the mushroom and it’s still very yummy!!

    • Aunt Clara November 2, 2014, 5:48 PM

      I am glad to hear you liked it. Thanks for letting me know.

  • wildflower February 5, 2014, 8:44 AM

    I just discovered your website and I’m thrilled to see some very tasty looking and yet simple-to-make vegan recipes. Thank you for that! I’m vegan who likes to try foods from all different cultures, and I’m very thankful for these adaptions of original recipes. They are both healthier and cruelty-free. It’s a wonderful way to update and share traditional recipes. It’s a win-win, if you ask me. :)

  • Heather Francois August 20, 2013, 12:35 PM

    Hi Clara, this recipe is amazing! My husband is from La Romana, DR and our family is vegan. Thank you so much for veganizing one of his favorite dishes. We made it and our whole family loved it!

  • Elizabeth July 5, 2013, 8:20 AM

    Thanks for this recipe. I typically make a batch of vegetarian sancocho then take a portion for myself and add the meats which I have sautéed to finish cooking for meat eating husband. I never thought of lentils but will try.
    As far as mushrooms why dry your own and reconstitute in the sancocho and not use fresh at the end?

    • Aunt Clara July 6, 2013, 5:30 AM

      That’s how I do it at home too. :)

      The dry-then-reconstituted mushrooms have a “meatier” texture than fresh-then-cooked.

  • Natasha May 24, 2013, 7:53 PM

    I have to say, as open-minded as I like to think I am, I wouldn’t give this a shot. When it comes to my sancocho, it needs to be meaty.

  • DS May 13, 2013, 9:21 AM

    Hi! Where can I find your original version of Alex’s recipe from a few years back (the one that used seitan)? I would like try that one as well.

    Thank you!

  • Suzanne Perazzini May 12, 2013, 5:10 AM

    This is clearly a very wholesome, healthy dish but I am very curious about the seven meats. What on earth are they?

  • Julia | May 11, 2013, 2:00 AM

    It’s an absolutely beautiful stew, and the rest of the photos are so pretty, including the photo of the hanging scale!

  • Sandra Paez May 9, 2013, 1:19 PM

    Tia Clara – This recipe looks very delicious and easy to make. Thank you so much for sharing it 😉 You’re the best!!