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Article Words : Lyn Hughes | 01 February

How to make Ecuadorian locro

This classic cheese and potato soup – indigenous to the Andes – has its roots in dishes dating back to the Spanish conquistadors of the 1500s

The American tourists insisted I must try their new discovery – a “fantastic” soup that the waiter had recommended the previous day. Little did they appreciate that, if there is one dish that represents the Ecuadorian Andes, it is the hearty cheese and potato soup in question, locro de papa.

No meal in the highlands is complete without some form of soup or broth. And in the Andes, the home of the potato, locro is the soup of choice for millions of serranos (highlanders).

The first mention of locro (or logro) by the Spanish conquistadors was in 1564, by a governor of Quito, Salazar de Villasante. He described it as a water-based broth containing plenty of ají (hot peppers). The name is believed to come from the Quichua word lugru, derived from the verb lugrana – to make soup.

The most common locro recipe in the highlands is based on potatoes, with fresh cheese and avocado added at serving. But you can also find locro with beef, pork, chicken and guinea pig, as well as with vegetables such as cabbage and pumpkin. In the highlands north of Quito, around Guayllabamba, you could even try yaguarlocro, which incorporates pig’s blood (yahuar means blood in Quichua).

There are many recipes: you can argue whether the potatoes should be sliced or smashed, whether any milk or cream should be added or not. But at the end of the day, all I know is that, after a bracing walk or ride in the highlands, just about any locro tastes like pure ambrosia.

Locro recipe

Serves 4 (main course)

Preparation time: 15 mins

Cooking time: 30 mins

Ingredients

Handful of long spring onions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp of salt
25g (large knob) of butter
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
2 tsp of achiote or annatto seeds (or try a pinch of saffron – for colour not flavour)
5-6 potatoes (such as King Edward or Désirée), roughly chopped, leaving some whole
7 cups of hot water
1 cup of whole milk
2 types of cheese grated in equal amounts (use a soft fresh cheese and Port Salut)

To make:

1. Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter and oil, along with the colouring and salt.

2. Add the potatoes to the pan, coating them well with the mixture.

3. Add the hot water and boil until the potatoes are soft.

4.Blend some milk with the cheeses, and then add to the soup. Blend until the soup has a creamy texture.

To serve: Locro tastes great with sliced or cubed avocado, grated cheese and ají (hot sauce) added just before serving.

Provided by Hacienda San Agustin de Callo

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