Locro de papa is one of the staple dishes of Ecuador. It is a potato based soup with cheese, served with avocado and cooked with garlic, onions, achiote (annatto) powder and cilantro.
Locro de papa is particularly popular in the Andes highlands in Ecuador, where it's the perfect accompaniment to the cold rainy weather. The word locro comes from the Quechua word, ruqru, which means stew, and papa means potato in Spanish.
The cheese used in our recipe for locro de papa is the ubiquitous soft Ecuadorian queso fresco. A good alternative if you can't find it is mozzarella.
Achiote/annatto is a red food colouring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree and has a peppery/nutty fragrance.
INGREDIENTS FOR ECUADORIAN LOCRO DE PAPA
- 10 potatoes, peeled and chopped into small large pieces
- 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
- 1,600ml of water (ie 7 cups of water)
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon of achiote powder
- 2 teaspoons of cumin
- 250ml of milk
- 250g of queso fresco (or mozzarella)
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 avocados, sliced: for serving
HOW TO MAKE ECUADORIAN LOCRO DE PAPA
1. In a large soup cooking pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the diced onions, garlic, cumin and achiote powder.
Cook on a medium heat, for around 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender.
2. Add the potatoes and mix until they're coated with the mixture and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the water and cook on high heat until it starts boiling, then reduce to medium heat and cook for around 1 hour: until the potatoes become very tender.
4. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes in the pot so that it becomes creamy but with a few chunks of potatoes remaining.
5. Reduce to a low heat, stir in the milk and cook for a further 5 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add a bit more milk.
6. Grate 125g of the cheese and chop the remaining 125g into small cubes (to be used for serving).
7. Mix the grated cheese into the soup along with half of the chopped cilantro (keep the remaining chopped cilantro for serving), and stir it well.
8. Add salt and pepper to taste, then remove the soup from the heat.
9. To serve, in each bowl of soup, add a few slices of avocado, a handful of chopped cilantro and a small handful of the cubes of cheese.
In addition, you can serve a few more little pots of prizes to accompany the locro de papa. In Ecuador, most Ecuadorian restaurants serve appetisers with a few plates of:
- roasted maize kernals
- spicy aji garlic sauce (contains tree tomato fruit, chilli, onions and garlic)
- yummy home made bread
For more inspiration:
- learn more about the cuisine with our 10 famous foods in Ecuador
- discover what it's like growing up gay in Ecuador with our interview with Mario from Quito
- plan your trip with our gay guide to Quito
- watch our Galapagos Islands travel video: