Ajiaco (Cuban Soup)

Thought to originate from the native Taíno people of the island of Cuba, this stew-like soup is traditionally made at the start of the San Juan festival in the city of Camagüey. Surprisingly enough, the temperature in Cuba drops to the low 50s several times a year, and a warm soup is perfect for the mild weather. The first time I experienced this relative chill, I was so taken by surprise that I had nothing warm enough to wear. I layered almost everything that I had with me and am sure I looked truly bizarre. This soup would have been the exact remedy for the cold.
Serves 4–6

¼ lb flank steak, cubed into
bite-size pieces
½ lb pork loin, cubed into bite-size
4 cups chicken broth
¼ cup red wine
¼ cup boniato (sweet potato),
peeled and cubed
¼ cup yuca (cassava), peeled and
¼ cup fresh pumpkin (or butternut
squash), peeled and cubed
1 ripe plantain, peeled
and cubed
1 ear of fresh sweet corn, husked
and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
1 fresh lime, cut into slices
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
¼ green pepper, diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp oregano

Place the stew ingredients, except the lime, into a 6-quart Crock-Pot. For the sofrito, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and green pepper until the onion is translucent. Add in the garlic, tomato sauce, cumin, and oregano. Add this mixture to the Crock-Pot with the stew. Cook on low for 6–8 hours. Remove the bay leaf, squeeze in lime juice, and serve while hot.
(Found on page 24 of Cuban Flavor)

liza gershman