Stew on a cold rainy day

I’m so glad that we’re finally getting to some cooler weather – it has been a really hot summer and fall.  And one of my favorite things about fall and winter is the comfort of warm and hearty soups and stews.  A recipe for a stew called Locro Argentino looked delicious, but one batch serves 10-12 people.  So I had to call in the reinforcements and take the stew pot to the library for lunch!

Co-workers brought rolls, fruit and dessert, so we had a meal together and didn’t have to go out of the building on this cold and rainy day.  The sofrito idea is a very interesting one, I had always thought previously that sofrito was an onion, garlic & pepper mixture, maybe with tomatoes, that was used at the beginning of cooking and built upon.  But in this case almost all of the flavor/spice of the soup was added with a sofrito (defined in this cookbook as a fried sauce and containing none of the ingredients I typically associate with sofrito) right at the end of cooking.  I worried that the stew would taste bland, but it was very nicely spiced this way, with a good depth of flavor.  I made the soup on Wednesday night and reheated it for Thursday lunch, and as with many soups – it was just as good or better on the second day!

Locro Argentino (Argentine hominy and bean soup)
1 lb. stew beef
8 c. water
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped green pepper
2 (15 oz.) cans hominy, drained
1 can cannellini or great northern white beans, drained
8 oz. Polish sausage, sliced into rounds
2 c. slivered cabbage
1 lb. winter squash, cubed
12 oz. sweet potato, cubed
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Slowly brown the stew beef in a bit of oil in the bottom of a heavy-bottomed stew pot. Then add the water, onion and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cover to simmer for about 90 minutes. Remove the beef and cut it up or shred into smaller pieces. It should be very tender at this point.

Add all the other ingredients and simmer for about 30 minutes. The squash should be falling apart and the broth will start to thicken up.

Make a sofrito (fried sauce):
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes
1 bunch of green onions, sliced thinly (the white part and some of the green)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
4 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Heat the oil over medium heat in a small pan, add the paprika until it absorbs the oil and starts to be fragrant – less than 1 minute. Then add the other sofrito ingredients and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the mixture to the finished stew and cook for a few minutes, adjust with salt and pepper to taste.

Adapted from: The South American Table

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