Sancocho… the word alone brings excitement, don’t you agree? This Puerto Rican beef stew recipe is hearty, rich, and yet well-balanced with my squeeze of lemon at the end. I’ve been wanting to share my Puerto Rican sancocho recipe for awhile now with you and I’m beyond excited to present it!
What is Sancocho soup?
You’re probably wondering what sancocho soup is. Sancocho is a Latin American inspired beef stew using root vegetables that are common to those countries (think Cuba, Puerto Rico, etc). Each country has their own variation and today I’m sharing with you an adaptation of my mother’s Puerto Rican sancocho recipe. Sancocho is typically served with a side of white rice and chunks of ripe avocado.
Sancocho is a hearty soup that is filled with chunks of cassava, name, malanga (aka yautia) which are root vegetables commonly found in Latin and Asian supermarkets. Goya also sells a bag filled with frozen sancocho root vegetables. These root vegetables are known as vianda by the Hispanic community.
Also in Sancocho could be found chunks of carrots, celery, corn, plantains and of course beef stew chunks.
How do you make Sancocho?
To make Puerto Rican sancocho soup traditionally, it’s made in a large pot over the stove and cooked for a few hours. For this recipe, I’m showing you how I made it in the Instant Pot to save time. But I will also show you how to make it on the stove.
For the root vegetables, the outsides are typically rough. They peel easily with both a potato peeler and a knife. I suggest using a small pairing knife to peel the flesh, which is typically not deep.
How To Make An Easy Puerto Rican Sancocho Soup Recipe In The Instant Pot
First, we need to assemble all of the ingredients for this Puerto Rican sancocho recipe.
Ingredients for a sancocho soup recipe:
- 2.5 pounds of angus beef, cubed into 1 inch chunks
- 1 tablespoon of oregano
- 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
- 3 limes
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of sugar (optional)
- 2 green plantains, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 4 medium russet potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1 1/2 cups of calabaza, cut into 1 inch chunks (squash or pumpkin can be used)
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1 large cassava, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 2-3 yautia (malanga) peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 2 husks of corn, cut into 1 inch rounds
- 1/3 cup of homemade sofrito
- 2 packets of Goya Sazon seasoning (or 2 teaspoons of tumeric for coloring)
- 2 teaspoons of Adobo seasoning (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon of ground oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 4oz of tomato sauce
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup of cilantro chopped, plus more to garnish
- 6-8 cups of low sodium beef broth
Now onto the preparation.
For both stove top and Instant Pot preparations, it is important to marinate the beef. I season the beef with 1 tablespoon of oregano, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper and the juice of two limes. I then cover it and refrigerate it for two hours. My sancocho has a distinguished lime taste that I personally love. If you don’t want the lime taste, I suggest replacing the lime juice with white vinegar or doing a half and half mixture.
After the beef has marinated, I personally like to bring the meat to room temperature before continuing on.
How to make sancocho soup in an Instant Pot:
The beauty of the Instant Pot’s is that it’s versatile. There’s a setting for sauteing, so you don’t have to worry about missing out on the browning stage of cooking favorite foods.
I am using an 8qt Instant Pot, which is the bigger one. If you have a 6qt Instant Pot, you may have to use less beef and vegetables (or make a soup on the stove and test out which method you prefer).
Once the beef has been brought to room temperature, add in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the Instant Pot and press the saute option for about 10 minutes. While the oil is warming up, an optional step is to gently toss the beef with white sugar; it gives a nice caramel color to the broth.
Once the oil has warmed you will add in enough beef to cover the bottom, and leave the rest to cook in batches. You will cook the beef for 2-4 minutes or until the beef has browned, stirring occasionally. You may need to adjust the timing on the saute option, depending on how big your Instant Pot is. Once beef has browned, remove and set to the side and continue until all beef has browned.
Once all beef has browned, continue on the saute option for an additional 3 minutes, and add in a tablespoon of oil. You will now add in the homemade sofrito and remaining seasonings, as well as the tomato sauce, cilantro, and fresh thyme. Stir it occasionally. Cooking your seasonings and sofrito beforehand helps create bolder flavors.
Now, you will add in your vegetables and your beef, gently toss it together so everything is mixed in together. Add in your beef broth -being sure not to pass the maximum capacity line. Once everything is in, give a quick stir, and taste for seasoning; if desired, add more salt.
Go ahead and set your Instant Pot on manual high pressure, set your timer for 30 minutes. Close the lid and set the valve to seal. Back away and make your white rice to serve with it on the side. 🙂
Once the timer is up, press the Cancel button, allow it to release naturally or wait at least 10 minutes before doing a quick release. As always, be careful with opening. It’s almost time to eat your sancocho soup!
How to Make Sancocho Soup on the Stove:
Once the beef has been brought to room temperature, add in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large dutch oven or large heavy bottom soup pot over medium high heat. While the oil is warming up, an optional step is to gently toss the beef with white sugar; it gives a nice caramel color to the broth.
Once the oil has warmed you will add in enough beef to cover the bottom, and leave the rest to cook in batches. You will cook the beef for 2-4 minutes or until the beef has browned, stirring occasionally. Once the beef has browned, remove and set to the side and continue until all beef has browned.
Once all beef has browned and has been removed add in a tablespoon of oil. You will now add in the homemade sofrito and remaining seasonings, as well as the tomato sauce, cilantro, and fresh thyme. Stir it occasionally. Cooking your seasonings and sofrito before hand helps create bolder flavors in your sancocho recipe.
Now, you will add in your vegetables and your beef, gently toss it together so everything is mixed in together, and add in your beef broth. Once everything is in, give a quick stir, and taste for seasoning. If desired, add more salt. Cover slightly higher heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and allow to simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally, or until root vegetables are fork tender and beef has cooked to your liking.
That’s it mi gente! This is how you make Puerto Rican style sancocho. Be sure to taste one last time before serving to adjust the seasoning, and if desired, add in a squeeze of lime or lemon juice. Sancocho is best served with white rice. We take a spoon of white rice and dip it into the sancocho soup. Que rico!
I realize this post is rather long and may be intimidating, but I promise it is not. 🙂 Give it a try and let us know in the comments below how you like it! Take care and buen provecho!
More Soup Recipes:
- Puerto Rican Sopa con Salchichon
- Spanish Albondiga Soup (Meatball Soup)
- Enchilada Tortellini Soup
- Chicken Noodle Soup