March 12, 2010

Puchero (Argentine Country Vegetable Soup)

I can't remember the first time I actually had Puchero, but I do remember when I learned to make it.

We were living in our tiny, two bedroom apartment in downtown Buenos Aires, 10 years ago now. I was a new Mommy and my husband wanted Argentinian, and only Argentinian food, for dinner. Problem was, I'm American!

Anyway, he explained to me what to do. Go to the corner vegetable stand and just ask for "vegetables for puchero, please". They would know what to give me.

We live in the States now, but Puchero is something we still love to eat. It's SO healthy and SO naturally flavorful, we crave it at least twice a month in the winter. That said, yes, it's primarily a winter dish. I never want to cook up a pot of soup come mid-Spring to early Fall. But that's just me.

So here are the ingredients (in typical Argentine vagueness - just use enough for the amt. of people you are feeding. You can omit anything you don't like):

--potatoes (peeled or not, cut in half or not, according to preference)
--sweet potatoes (cut in half, I don't peel these)
--whole carrots (cut in half they are easier to serve)
--one small or medium butternut squash, cut in thick rounds
--one onion, whole
--corn on the cob
--celery (you can leave leafy part on if desired)
--fennel with leafy part
--a bunch of parsley, stems and all, cut in half or thirds
--chicken (any cut you wish) OR
--beef on the bone (whatever you like, just on the bone, gives more flavor)
--eggs (cracked and dropped in at the end, or added whole at beginning and peeled later)
--small soup pasta (if desired, I don't like it with pasta myself, although hubs loves it this way)

Some people, as you can see in the above picture, vary it up a bit and add garbanzo beens, string beans, cabbage, even zuchini if you like. Recipes vary from family to family.

DIRECTIONS: Bring large pot of salted water to a boil, add everything, simmer 1-2 hours (if using pasta, add last 10 minutes). If not hard-boiling your eggs, drop the cracked eggs in last 10 minutes. Adjust salt.

SERVE: Serve soup first. This is delicious with bits of greens and egg floating around in it, sprinkled with parmesan cheese, pepper, even a dash of lemon juice (sounds weird, but it's delicious!).

Serve vegetables and meat second. You can do as in these pictures, let everyone serve themselves the veggies they like plus some meat. OR you can eat it like we do, make everyone a personal mashed veggies on their own plate (potato, sweet potato, a carrot, piece of squash, maybe an egg) mashed up really, really well with their own fork (hey, it's country food), drizzled with some oil (I like olive), some lemon juice (trust me!), parmesan cheese, and salt. Oh. My. Word. You will love it! Leave the meat and corn on the side.

Tony recently told me this is poor man's food. Definately country food. Whatever, it is SO healthy. You will feel full, yet not weighed down. It's also a good detox food and great cleanser.

Let me know if you try it!

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