Locro de papa is a classic Ecuadorian potato and cheese soup. Soups are very popular in Ecuador and usually served with most meals. They are one of the cheapest and best tasting dishes you can find. A typical Ecuadorian meal will consist of primero or the first course, segundo or second course- usually meat, poultry or seafood with rice; and dessert. Soups are usually served as a primero and most soups -as well as a lot of other dishes- are always served with avocado and aji or hot sauce.
Locro de papa is more common in the Andes highlands or Sierra region of Ecuador. Quito probably has the biggest claim on this soup, it is even known as locro quiteño by some. Like many Ecuadorian dishes, the ingredients and preparation will vary from one city to another. Some variations of the locro de papa add fresh corn to the soup, others add chopped cabbage or leafy greens. There’s even a variation with blood sausage called yaguarlocro. The last time I was there, the mother of one my friends made locro de papas without cheese and used freshly ground peanuts instead. She explained that when people couldn’t afford to buy cheese, they would use ground peanuts; the soup was good but I missed the cheese. In Quito and the northern part of Ecuador they usually serve this potato soup with maiz tostado or Andean corn nuts. This locro de papa is a great soup for cold rainy or snowy weather. It can be served as a first course, but is satisfying and filling enough to make a complete meal.
10 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped into small and large pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp achiote powder
7 cups of water
1 cup of milk or more
1 cup grated or crumbled cheese (quesillo, queso fresco, mozzarella or monterey jack)
1 bunch of cilantro, leaves only, minced
Salt to taste
1 cup of queso fresco, feta cheese, or grated mozzarella
Avocados, sliced or diced
Aji or hot sauce
- Prepare a refrito or base for the soup by heating the canola oil over medium heat in a large soup pot; add the diced onions, minced garlic cloves, cumin, and achiote powder. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the potatoes to the pot and mix until they are coated with the refrito. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, stirring a every couple of minutes.
- Add the water and bring to boil, cook until the potatoes are very tender. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes in the pot, don’t mash all of them, the consistency of the soup should be creamy with small tender chunks of potatoes.
- Turn the heat down to low, stir in the milk and let cook for about 5 more minutes. You can add more milk if the soup is too thick.
- Add salt to taste
- Add the grated cheese and cilantro, mix well, and remove from the heat.
- Serve warm with the avocados, scallions, feta cheese and aji or hot sauce.