Puchero Tabasqueño – So Many Ingredients, So Little Time

December always is a fast paced month, with lots of planning which then leads to shopping for special menus, cooking,  cleaning, and counting down to holidays and the end of the year.  The ripple effect of the season sure enraptures everyone one way or another, but might also bring stress, and very little time left to cook day to day meals.  For those hectic days, a simple soup – hearty enough to be a complete meal – is always welcome to help to slow down the pace.  Puchero Tabasqueño is a traditional soup that touches down on several topics, in one delicious recipe: it comes from the Mexican state of Tabasco; it includes many vegetables and edible roots from the region; and it is a hearty and nutritious meal with stress-free instructions.  This is also a dish to enjoy regardless of climate or season, comforting on a cold winter day but – since it is always humid and hot in Tabasco – also timely for milder climates, and the Southern hemisphere.

The word puchero is used in Spanish to identify any hearty soup consisting of vegetables and some ingredient rich in protein, such as meat or pulses (or both). Interestingly, the word comes form the vessel where these preparations were cooked, also called puchero (click here to see an example). There are many variations of puchero in Tabasco; Puchero Tabasqueño is rightly named after the state since, as I have mentioned, it includes many of the roots and vegetables that grow in the region, either native or brought by the Spaniards (see chart at the end of the post.)  The only change I am making from the traditional recipe, is the use of chicken instead of beef.

Tabasco Style Soup – Puchero Tabasqueño 

Printable recipe: Tabasco Style Puchero

Ingredients (for 8-10 portions) 

2 lb (1 kg) beef shoulder with bone (or chicken pieces, with bone and skin)
½ onion; peeled and cut in half
2 cloves garlic; peeled
½ tsp salt
Water, as needed
2 ears corn (maize); husks and silk removed

2 potatoes
1 yam
1 large yuca
1 winter squash, such as butternut
1 sweet potato
1 pear squash (chayote)
1 plantain
2 cups green beans

2 tomatoes
1 sweet pepper (any colour)
1 clove garlic
½ onion
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place the first four ingredients in a large pot, adding water as needed, to cover.  Bring to a boil, skim foam with a spoon, then reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, for about one hour, or longer, until meat is tender and fully cooked. Add corn and let cook for another 10 minutes.  Let cool. Remove meat, shred and discard bones (and skin, for chicken); reserve (photo below, left). Remove corn on the cob, then either slice into cylinders, or shave kernels with a knife and discard cobs; reserve (photo below, middle). Strain broth through a fine mesh into another large pot; discard leftovers in colander and reserve broth (photo below, right):

Wash and dry all the vegetables.  Bring reserved broth to a rolling boil over high heat, then add ingredients one by one to the pot as they are peeled and sliced (since some of them will start to turn dark almost right away) following this order: First, peel and cut potatoes into one-inch cubes (photo, left).  Second yam, or “true” yam, not the same as sweet potatoes (photo, middle), by removing edges, peeling and cutting into 2-inch chunks; note how they turn dark right away (photo, right):

Next, yuca (photo, left); after peeling, slice in half, then lengthwise into quarters, removing fibrous centre from each section, before slicing (photo, middle); then, add slices to the pot (photo, right):

For the butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata, photo left), slice in half lengthwise, then each half into quarters; peel each section very carefully, removing seeds; cut into one-inch cubes and add to the pot (photo, right):

For the sweet potato (photo left) and chayote (photo, right) trim ends and peel before cutting into one-inch chunks, and adding to the pot:

Trim green beans, slice into 2-inch cylinders, and add to the pot (photo, left); trim the plantain ends before peeling like a regular banana (photo, middle), then slice into thick quarter circles, and add to the pot (photo, right):

Add enough water (preferably hot) to cover all the vegetables, and bring to a boil (photo, left); incorporate reserved meat and corn (photo, right):

Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer; cover and let cook.  Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: wash and dry tomatoes, pepper, cilantro and parsley. Remove stem end from tomatoes and cut into quarters; remove stem and seeds from pepper, and cut into chunks; peel onion and garlic clove.  Place all in a blender jar; add ½ tsp salt, 2 sprigs of cilantro, and the leaves from 2 sprigs of parsley (photo, left). Process until smooth, then add to the pot (photo, right):

Mix all the ingredients, adjusting seasoning with salt and pepper; let simmer for another 10-15 minutes, just until all the ingredients are fully cooked and hot.  Chop the rest of the cilantro and parsley (leaves only). Serve puchero in soup bowls, with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro and parsley on top:

Puchero from top

The meat, corn and broth, as well as the sauce, may be prepared the day before, and stored in the fridge; if the vegetables are selected, washed and dried in advance, the peeling, slicing and adding ingredients to the pot the next day will be an easy and relaxing activity.  And then, a big bowl (or two) of hot and comforting puchero will continue setting the tone for the sacred time of a sit-down meal at the dinner table.  After that, back to more planning for all the shopping, cooking, cleaning and counting down to …

Some of the ingredients in the recipe have names that are different by country or language, confused, or used generically, so I hope the chart below will help to clearly identify them:

puchero chart

This is a very appropriate recipe for What’s for dinner? Sunday Link-up #178 with gracious hostess Helen @ The Lazy Gastronome.

I am also joining Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms – Melt in Your Mouth Monday – Blog Hop #388

I am joining Tummy Tuesday, graciously hosted by Mary @ Cactus Catz

I am joining Fiesta Friday #254 with Angie @ Fiesta Friday, this week with co-hosts Antonia @ Zoale.com and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

25 thoughts on “Puchero Tabasqueño – So Many Ingredients, So Little Time

    1. He he, you would be surprised, Stefan! For example, when I was reviewing recipes for my tamales, I had a hard time figuring out if recipes called for tomatoes or what are usually called “tomatillos” in English; in Mexico, depending on the region, “tomate” may be one or the other, or either! And “tomatillo” is just one specific variety of the green fruits.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m so far behind, but I wanted to make sure I stopped by and thanked you for sharing at the What’s for Dinner party. Hope to see you again this week!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. love this post. It put me in mind of how great soup is this time of year. I hadn’t thought of making one with my acorn squash because I usually do it Japanese style — with soy sauce and the squash. But I made soup with it instead. It didn’t look as great as your soup though but the cool thing about soup is you can add ingredients later and the soup tastes different the second day. I want to stop by the store tomorrow and see if they have yuca or chayote — neither of which I’ve ever had so I can try that in it too. You are giving me the courage to try things I keep seeing in the store but never know what to do with.

    Liked by 1 person

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