I am here to tell you soup is on the menu.
Truth be told, in Panama we have soup any and/or every day of the week. Weather be damned. It’s always hot in my little country, we like soup, we have soup. This one is a favorite of mine. My Gramms used to make it for me when I was little. She would make it various cuts of beef, sometimes with pecho (which comes from the rib area), jarrete (from the shanks), and sometimes with patas (cow’s feet). The constant is the bones. Bones are the best gift you can give soup, they help intensify the flavor of the broth. If they bother you, feel free to remove them after cooking, the meat will literally fall off the bone by the time the soup is done.
This will make a large pot of soup, which is the only way I make soup. I want to have it for a couple of days.
Yields 8-10 large servings
1 lb beef shanks, cubed
4 beef short ribs (about 1lb)
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 serrano or habanero pepper, whole
2 cups dry split peas
2 lbs yuca (about 3 cups), peeled
1 lb otoe (about 1-1/2 cups), peeled
2 medium carrots, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 cup cilantro, leaves and stems
2 cubes beef bouillon
Beef: Liberally season the short ribs and shanks with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, set it aside while you get the other ingredients ready.
Split peas: Remove any damaged lentils or debris and rinse in cool water. Add enough water to cover and allow them to soak. Set aside.
Cut the yuca and otoe into pieces about 2-inches long. For the yuca, use a sharp knife, slit the peel off each section. Make sure you slit through the 2nd pinkish layer until you hit the fleshy white meat. At this point, use the sharp edge of the knife and push through the 2nd layer. Rinse and cut into 1-inch pieces. Check out this post for step-by-step instructions.
As for the carrots: Peel and cut into rounds.
For the soup: Heat up a large stockpot and add about 1 tbsp of oil, smear it around. Brown the beef on both sides. Once all the beef is browned, add the drained split peas, 1/2 of the yuca and otoe, all the carrots, the stemmy end of the cilantro, and the bouillon. Fill the pot with water, about 12-15 cups or so.
Allow it to come to a boil, and remove the foam that forms at the top when it boils. Lower the temperature to medium and allow it to come to a strong simmer. Stir it every few minutes, you want to make sure the split peas are not sticking to the bottom of the pan as that would cause the soup to scorch.
Allow it to simmer slowly for about 1-1/2 hrs for the beef to soften. At that time add the rest of the tubers and cilantro. Check the seasoning and adjust at will. Allow it to cook for another 30 minutes or so. If you used boned short ribs, you can pull those out to remove the bones and cut the meat to bite-size portions.
Serve with white rice.