For the vegans and vegetarians who still love their sancocho I've created a simple Vegan 'Sancocho' Recipe (Root Stew) that is hearty and filling.
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 know not everyone's a big fan of meat, so I deconstructed the dish and adapted it to a vegan diet. Let the fun begin!
When I told our readers on social media that I was working on a vegan sancocho recipe some of the reactions were the complete opposite of each other, but everyone seemed to have strong opinions on the matter.
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".
This is no laughing matter for some people.
The truth is, I didn't come up with the concept. I've been eating vegetarian and vegan sancochos 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 her 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.
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.
About this recipe
So what makes 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!
Vegan 'Sancocho' Recipe (Root Stew)
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves , crushed
- 1 teaspoon of dry oregano leaves
- 1 cup of yellow split peas
- 1 qt [1 l] vegetable broth
- 1 cup (about 2 oz) of dry mushrooms (see notes)
- ¼ lb [0.24 kg] of cassava (yuca), peeled and cut into small pieces
- ¼ lb [0.24 kg] of malanga (yautía, optional)
- ¼ lb [0.24 kg] of West Indian pumpkin (auyama)
- 1 unripe plantain cut into 1/2" slices
- ¼ lb [0.24 kg] of yam (ñame, optional)
- 1 corn on the cob , cut into 1/2" slices (optional)
- A bunch of cilantro and parsley , chopped
- 1½ teaspoons of salt (or more, to taste),
- ½ teaspoons of pepper (or more, to taste)
- Spicy bitter orange vinegar to serve (optional)
- Sauteing vegetables: Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, orégano, and split peas. Cook and stir for a few seconds.
- Simmering: Add 1 qt [1lt] of vegetable broth plus 1 qt [1lt] of water. Cover and lower temperature. Simmer until the split peas are very soft. Add more water to maintain the same level and stir when it becomes necessary.
- Cooking roots: When the split peas are cooked through, add the dry mushrooms, cassava, malanga, plantain, pumpkin, yam, and corn. Simmer covered over medium heat until all the vegetables and roots are cooked through.
- Seasoning: Chop the cilantro and parsley and add to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serving: Serve with bitter orange vinegar on the side and accompany with white rice and some slices of avocado.