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!
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.
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 sanchocho, which was pretty-well received, and is still getting visitors to this day.
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 wider appeal.
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!
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.
- 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
- 1/4 lb of cassava (yuca), peeled and cut into small pieces
- 4 sweet peppers (ajíes dulces), crushed (optional)
- 1/4 lb of malanga
- 1/4 lb of West Indies pumpkin (auyama)
- 1 unripe plantain cut into 1/2" slices
- 1/4 lb of white yam (taro)
- 1 corn on the cob, cut into 1/2" slices (optional)
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- A bunch of cilantro and parsley
- 1 teaspoon of dry oregano leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- Spicy bitter orange vinegar to serve (optional)
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the garlic, sweet pepper, orégano and split peas.
- Cook and stir for a few seconds.
- Add 1 qrt of vegetable broth. Cover and lower temperature.
- Simmer until the split peas are very soft. Add more broth and stir when it becomes necessary.
- Add the dry mushrooms, carrot, cassava, malanga, plantain, pumpkin, taro and corn.
- Add the remaining broth (or water if you used all the broth already) til it covers all the vegetables.
- Simmer covered over medium heat until all the vegetables and roots are cooked through.
- Chop the cilantro and parsley and add to the pot.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- 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 1/4 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.