Saturday, December 19, 2009

Panamanian Sancocho

During the cold months, it’s always nice to have some warm soup to make you feel better. For some reason, soups gives us this comfort feeling when it’s so cold outside.

Growing up in Panama, where it doesn’t get cold at all, I grew up eating Panamanian Sancocho. Some people clain this soup has some magical properties and it is used to soothe anything from a hangover to the flu. I remember my grandma making it for me anytime I got sick, or going to Roly’s house on Christmas day after partying all night on Christmas eve.
Sancocho is a chicken soup made with onion, cilantro, oregano, salt and ñame (Yam). I have a hard time finding ñame around here, however I am able to find yucca root, so I use it instead. If you are unable to find either one you can use potatoes. I really don’t measure when I make this soup at home, I just add the ingredients as I go until it tastes good. If this is not your style then you can use the following measurements I found on Elena Hernandez blog:

1 whole chicken
½ cup onion finely chopped
8 cilantro leaves (considering that this is the cilantro you find in Panama, this is about 3 Tbs. of the cilantro you find in the U.S.)
4 cups of ñame cut into medium pieces
Salt and oregano to taste

It’s important to use a whole chicken, specially the dark meat which is going to add most of the flavor to the soup. Season the chicken with the cilantro, onion and salt. Place the chicken in the pot and cook covered over medium heat. The chicken will release its own juice and cook. Add enough water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the ñame until is tender. Serve with white rice and let the healing power of the sancocho begin.

Find more about ñame and its availability in your area here.

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