Puchero is a peasant stew from Spain, but is prepared in a number of countries in Central and South America, and in the Phillippines. The word “puchero” translates to “stew pot” in English. Many times, the broth is made from meat or cured bones. Depending on the country preparing it, there are variations in some of the ingredients. Latin America includes chorizo or pork belly. The Phillippines includes plantains and sweet potato. Most of the time, chickpeas are included, regardless of the region.
This recipe is inspired by puchero. A generous amount of smoked paprika, a hint of cloves, a bit of red miso, a splash of sherry vinegar and a dab of soy sauce create a flavorful broth for this hearty stew. It cooks up fast, and tastes even better the next day. Serve with some crusty bread, and you’re in for a real treat.
I like the way whole cloves intensify the flavor of the broth over time (much like the bay leaf works!), but it can be annoying to accidentally bite down on a whole clove in the middle of devouring a bowl of stew. I recommend fishing them out before serving, avoiding them with your spoon (like you would a bay leaf), or using ground cloves instead. The cloves create a unique flavor, so I definitely would not skip them, but find a way to incorporate them that works for you!
Hearty Sweet Potato Chickpea Stew
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup leeks (white part only), thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
3 cups peeled, bite-size pieces of sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
4 cups water
2 15.5 ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
8 whole cloves (OR ⅓ tsp ground cloves) – see note above
1 bay leaf
1 ½ Tbsp red miso
1-1 ½ Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
4 cups torn red chard with middle stems removed from each leaf
1. In a large, heavy pot or dutch oven, add olive oil, onion, leeks, and garlic. Sauté for ~7 minutes over medium-low heat or until completely soft and a bit translucent.
2. Add the smoked paprika and sweet potatoes to the pot. Sauté for an additional 3 minutes—stirring frequently. Then, add water, garbanzos, cloves, and the bay leaf. Over high heat, bring the pot to a boil. Once it boils, turn down to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are fork tender.
3. Stir in the red miso, sherry vinegar and soy sauce. Taste, and adjust seasonings, if needed. Then, stir in the red chard, and allow it to wilt in the broth (about 30 seconds to 1 minute). Serve.