Tropical Starch Stew

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Latin American Paleo Cooking Over 80 Traditional Recipes Made Grain and Gluten FreeSancocho is a type of hearty stew popular in many countries. It is traditionally prepared on Sundays, using up leftover ingredients from the week. It is an easy one-pot meal to put together and share with loved ones. Milagros likes to use a wide variety of starchy fruits and tubers in her sancocho and would traditionally put corn on the cob in hers as well, which I have omitted here to keep it grain-free and Paleo. See here for more info on these tropical starches. Yuca and plantains are typically the easiest to find, and you can use another squash for the calabaza and white potatoes in place of the malanga and taro.

  • Yield: 6 to 8 Servings


  • 4 tbsp (30 to 60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil (use more if cooking raw meat)
  • 4 tbsp (55 g) Sofrito
  • 1½ lb (680 g) cubed fresh meat (such as stew beef or pork or chicken breast), or about 2 cups (280 g) Simple Shredded Chicken
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 lb (455 g) peeled and cored yuca (frozen recommended)
  • 1 green plantain, peeled and sliced into 1” (2.5-cm) rounds
  • 1 ripe plantain, peeled and sliced into 1” (2.5 cm) rounds
  • 1 small piece (½ to 1 lb [225 to 455 g]) calabaza squash, peeled and cut in 1” (2.5 cm) pieces (can substitute butternut squash or regular pumpkin)
  • 2 malangas, peeled and cut into 1” (2.5-cm) pieces
  • 1 small taro root, peeled and cut into 1” (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 1 tsp (6 g) fine Himalayan salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 quarts (1.9 to 2.8 L) Chicken Broth, divided
How to Make It
  1. In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the sofrito. Cook, stirring constantly, until sizzling and fragrant, about 2 to 4 minutes (longer if using frozen).
  2. If using raw meat, add it now and stir frequently to sear all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and continue to sauté until it is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes more. If you are using leftover shredded meat, add it together with the onion, cooking for 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, if necessary, and add a few cups (235 to 475 ml) of broth to deglaze the pan. Next, add all the remaining ingredients, topping off with enough broth to cover. Note that traditionally this is not a watery soup. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover the pot and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for at least 30 minutes, or until all the starches are tender. Overcooking will cause the ripe plantains and calabaza to fall apart.

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