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How about some comfort food, Ecuadorian style

We all have our special comfort foods that we grew up with:  liver, spinach, beets … oops, wrong list. I’m thinking more along the lines of mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, miso soup, warm apple crisp, takoyaki (don’t ask), bread fresh out of the oven . . . (This column is paused briefly for a snack break.)

OK, back again, he said, wiping chocolate from his mouth.

So what do we have here in Ecuador? One of my faves on a cold drizzly day is Locro Ecuatoriano, a simple, hearty potato soup, which we have tweaked a bit to add a some greens to make it more healthy, because Jackie made me,and some sausage to make it less so, but really, really good. We have made this version often for friends, and they always ask for seconds or more.

Chorizo

So here’s our version of Locro Ecuatoriano, renamed:

Locro Gringo:

¼ Cup salted butter (56 gm.)
1 Tbsp olive oil
400 gm. sausage, sliced into 1/4” rounds. We have tried some mystery sausage from the Mercado with good results, but also recommendLa Italiana brand Chorizo al Vino, 400 gm., available at Supermaxi.
1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
3 (or more) cloves garlic, minced
4 Cups kale leaves, chopped (I used 1 bunch of chard, because that’s what I had.  Omit white stems, or chop and cook stems with onions)
2-3 Lbs. red potatoes (about 6 medium), cut into chunks (the original recipe says to peel them, but I never do – just wash them well and cut them up.)

Papas

1 tsp. salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp ground rosemary (romero)
½ tsp ground thyme (tomillo)
4 Cups chicken stock, preferably homemade*
2 Cups milk (entera, notsemidescrema)

  1. Melt butter and olive oil in a large pot until hot.
  2. Add sliced sausage and sauté over medium-hot heat, stirring occasionally until browned on both sides (about 8 minutes).
  3. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally over medium heat, until onion is translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in kale or chard. Cook until wilted, 2-3 min..
  5. Add potatoes, salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. Stir to combine.
  6. Add chicken stock and milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender and falling apart, about 30-45 minutes.
  7. Mash some of the potatoes with a potato masher to help thicken the soup, but leave some chunks.
  8. Some recipes recommend adding a cup of grated cheese (Muenster, queso frescoor parmesan)at this point, but I personally prefer to leave it be. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Take the cheese out on the table for anybody who wants some.
  9. Leftovers, if any, are even better the next day, and also freeze well.
The finished product.

We also recommend hot sauce and additional salt at the table. For a well-rounded meal, serve with a salad and bread from your favorite neighborhood bakery.

*If you have never made homemade chicken stock, we intend to show you how in a future article. It’s really easy and very inexpensive.