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Recipes from Around the World: Vegan Sancocho

A hearty stew is the perfect comfort meal, especially during the colder months. This vegan sancocho is comforting, filling, and healthy! Sancocho is a traditional Dominican stew that is typically made with 7 different types of meat, root vegetables, corn cobs, and plantains. Although this won’t be a traditional sancocho recipe because we are eliminating the meat to make it vegan, it will offer a healthier alternative by reducing the saturated fat content. There are many different ways to add umami flavor to a vegan dish. In this recipe, we will be using equal parts tamari (or soy sauce) and balsamic vinegar to mimic the meaty flavor of the traditional dish. 

Other variations of sancocho appear in other cuisines throughout Latin America, but we will be using a Dominican inspired approach for this recipe. The history of the cuisine of the Dominican Republic is what makes it truly interesting. This is because it has been influenced by many different cultures including, but not limited to, Spanish, Taino, African, and even Middle Eastern. These cultural influences have shaped Dominican cuisine into what we view it as today.

In Dominican cuisine, you will often see some of the same ingredients appear in many different dishes and prepared in countless ways. These staple ingredients include meat (pork, chicken, beef, and goat), white rice, red beans, plantains, and root vegetables such as cassava and malanga. Some of the common herbs and spices that are used in Dominican cooking include, as they are called in English, annatto, allspice, oregano, cilantro, parsley, thyme and many more! This recipe for vegan sancocho, although eliminating the meat, still incorporates many of these staple ingredients and reflects the unique cuisine of the Dominican Republic [i].

Ingredient Highlights

Squash: Kabocha squash is a winter squash that is packed with nutrients while remaining low in calories. It is a good source of beta-carotene, lutein, vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber, magnesium, and potassium. Beta-carotene and lutein have been researched for their effects on protecting healthy cells from free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that can damage normal cells and lead to chronic health problems. Squash also contains a high amount of potassium. This is beneficial to heart health because potassium counteracts the effects of sodium, which can help manage high blood pressure [ii]

Green Plantain: Green plantains contain resistant starch. Resistant starches bypass digestion in the small intestine and ferment in the large intestine, where they act as a prebiotic. A prebiotic feeds the good bacteria in the gut, improving overall gut health [iii]. Resistant starch may also help with managing cholesterol and blood sugar levels [iv].

Sweet Potato: Sweet potatoes with orange flesh have high amounts of beta-carotene, a plant chemical which gives the potato its vibrant color. Beta-carotene has been researched for its antioxidant properties that function to eliminate free radicals from the body, and therefore reduce the risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers [v]. Beta-carotene is also converted to vitamin A, which is important in the maintenance of vision, the immune system, and cell growth and division [vi]. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium and fiber.


Vegan Sancocho

Serves: 6
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes


  • ¼ cup olive oil 
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced 
  • ½ Tbsp oregano 
  • ½ tsp cumin 
  • 1 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast 
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth 
  • 1 cassava (yuca), peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces 
  • 1 large yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces 
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces 
  • 2 green plantains, sliced 
  • 2 cups kabocha squash, seeds removed, cut into ½ inch pieces 
  • 2 corn cobs, cut into ½ inch slices 
  • Juice of 2 limes 
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: ½ avocado, sliced to serve


1. In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and saute the onion and garlic until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. 

2. Add in the oregano, cumin, tamari, balsamic vinegar, and nutritional yeast. Stir for 30 seconds. 

3. Add the yukon gold potato, sweet potato, yuca, kabocha squash, corn cobs and plantains. Stir for approximately 1 minute. Add in the vegetable broth, cover, and cook on medium heat until all vegetables are tender. 

4. Once all the vegetables are cooked through, add the lime juice, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. It is now ready to serve and enjoy! You may top the dish with sliced avocado and/or serve the sancocho with white rice.


  • If you’re wanting to add more umami flavor to this dish, you could add seitan or mushrooms to imitate the taste and texture of meat. 
  • Some of these ingredients may be hard to find in some grocery stores, such as yuca and kabocha squash. If you’re having trouble finding these ingredients, they can easily be swapped. For example, kabocha squash can be swapped with butternut squash and a russet potato may take the place of the yuca. 
  • This dish can easily be frozen into individual servings to be heated up and enjoyed later.


[i] Clara T. Dominican Food: History, Origins, and Basics. Dominican Cooking. Published June 24, 2022. Accessed September 7, 2022. 

[ii] Winter Squash. The Nutrition Source. Published December 15, 2017. Accessed September 7, 2022. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/winter-squash/ 

[iii] McKinney C. What is Resistant Starch? The Johns Hopkins Patient Guide to Diabetes. Published June 7, 2018. Accessed September 7, 2022. https://hopkinsdiabetesinfo.org/what-is-resistant-starch/

[iv] Fiber. The Nutrition Source. Published September 18, 2012. Accessed September 7, 2022. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/https://www.dominicancoo 

[v] Sweet Potatoes. The Nutrition Source. Published November 17, 2017. Accessed September 7, 2022. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/sweet-potatoes/ 

[vi] Beta-carotene Information. Mount Sinai Health System. Accessed September 7, 2022. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/beta-carotene

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