This weekend Ben (my 7 year old) and I are going to make soup. I know that you are thinking “boring” but I ask that you give this post a chance. I will be sharing my version of Locro, a soup that I discovered while working in Argentina. I fell in love with this hardy winter soup and it has become Ben’s favorite soup as well. In this post I will share my version which excludes tripes and other organ meat but captures the essence of the soup. (The recipe will be at the bottom for those who don’t want to read all of the other stuff I always end up writing. I don’t think I can ever just write down a simple recipe)
Here is some back story before I share the soup recipe. (can’t help myself… always have to give back story) I was very fortunate to work with a team in Cordoba, Argentina several years ago and I fell in love with the people, the country and the food. I have never met more loving and warm people and I have yet to eat a steak that can compare to what I ate while there.
Here is some of my advice for anyone visiting Argentina. If you are invited to have yerba mate don’t expect to have your own cup and don’t freak out when everyone shares the same straw. Eat as many empanadas, humita, locro, and alfajores as you can and never turn down an invitation to an asado… just avoid anything that is cooked in a spiral (usually organs). While at an asado, even if the idea of eating blood sausage makes you squeamish, don’t turn down the morcilla because it is delicious grilled.
I have so many fond memories of Cordoba. One that stands out was the night I was followed home by at least 10 stray dogs. I decided to let them into the hotel through the back door while having one of those “I don’t live here so what the heck” moments. (Don’t judge I am sure you have done “ugly American” tourist things). You cannot imagine the chaos and pandemonium that followed. Those dogs started running everywhere and not in a careful don’t break anything kind of way. I should have been smarter… they were stray dogs after all. I quickly realized that the situation was going much worse than expected (or better depending on how you are looking at it) so I quietly snuck up the back stairs. There was at least 15 minutes of yelling followed by bangs and booms. It is during this time that I learned the phrase “fuera de acá”. (I wrote this down in my small pocket notepad… Important to take advantage of any opportunity to learn more Spanish)
Here is La Vieja Esquina, which is was one of my favorite places to eat and it was just around the corner from my hotel.
Time for the recipe:
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 large yam
- 3 medium potatoes
- 2 lbs. of bone in pork ribs
- 2 smoked ham hocks or smoked ham shanks
- 2 lbs. of ham
- 4 hot spicy Italian sausages
- 1 large can of Hominy (or 3 small cans)
- 4 cans of white beans
- 3 cans of corn
- 1 yellow onion (I left this out because of allergies)
- Salt, Pepper, Herbs de province (or your favorite savory herb mix… )
Ben is going to be making this soup with my help. He has been very interested in “cooking” ever since he saw the kids version of “Chopped”. He wants to go onto that show and compete.(Not sure if he really wants to cook or just have a chance to win the $10,000).
Step One: Place meat (or chicken as Ben would say… he calls all meat chicken) in the bottom of a large pot with just enough water to cover the meat. Place pot on medium heat. You are going to need a “LARGE POT”…. or reduce the recipe. This is a soup that taste better the second or third day and takes at least 4 hours of cooking so making more is much easier.
Step Two: Wash, peel, and cut into small cubes the squash, yam (or ham as Ben says) and potatoes. Place these into the pot.
Step Three: Open 3 of the 4 cans of beans and the hominy. Rinse them and add them to the pot. DO NOT ADD THE CORN OR FOURTH CAN OF BEANS YET!!!
Step Four: Add water just until it covers the top of the beans and hominy and then add the spices. You will need to do this to taste.
Step Five: Let simmer for 3 hours making sure that it doesn’t boil over or run out of water. I also check to make sure the meat is not stuck to the bottom.
Step Six: Take out all of the meat and with a potato masher smash all of the beans, squash, yams, potatoes, and hominy into the soup. It does not have to be completely smooth but you should smash it up enough that the soup becomes thick and you don’t have any large chunks.
Step Seven: Remove all of the bones and fat and cut the meat up into chunks. I don’t think the size matters but I like them all small enough to easily fit into a spoon.
Step Eight: Open the cans of corn and last can of white beans, rinse them and add them along with the meat to the soup. Let this simmer for 1 more hour (this should mean 4 hours total for the soup)
VERY IMPORTANT… During the last hour since the soup is thick it will be easy to burn the bottom. Turn the heat down, check often and stirr soup frequently.
STEP NINE…. EAT!!!!!