Cuchuco de trigo is a soup made with soaked wheat. Other types of cuchuco are made with corn or barley. Cuchuco the trigo is strongly associated with the altiplano (“high plane”) of Colombia’s Boyacá and Cundinamarca departments, in the Andes region.
The name cuchuco comes from the Chibcha (Muysccubun) language, a now nearly extinct language spoken by the Muisca people. The Muisca traditionally inhabited the central highlands (Altiplano Cundiboyacense) of Colombia.
Recipe for cunchuco de trigo
- 2 yellow potatoes (medium size)
- 2 red potatoes (medium size)
- 1 carrot (medium size)
- 1 big yellow onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 scallions
- 1 small red bell pepper
- Cabbage, enough to make 2 cups of shredded cabbage
- 10 cups of water
- 1/2 cup of soaked wheat
- 1 cup of fava beans
- 2 lbs of pork ribs
- 1 beef bouillon cube
- ½ cup peas
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon anchiote powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Fresh cilantro, to taste
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- Start by preparing the vegetables and root vegetables. Shred the cabbage. Peel and finely dice potatoes and carrot. Peel and chop onion and garlic into small pieces. Finely chop scallions and bell pepper.
- Pour the water into a large pot and add onion, garlic, scallions, red bell pepper, soaked wheat, fava beans, pork ribs and the beef bouillon cube. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce to medium-low heat. Leave to simmer for 50 minutes.
- Add cabbage, potatoes, carrots and peas.
- Stir in flour, anchiote and ground cummin.
- Cook under a lid for 25 minutes, or until the pork is ready.
- Chop cilantro. How much cilantro one wants in the soup varies a lot from one person to the other, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find the amount that is right for you. You can also have some freshly chopped cilantro available as a side dish for dinner guests that wish to put extra cilantro in their soup.
- Add salt, pepper and cilantro to taste.
- Serve hot.
The Altiplano Cundiboyacense is a high plateau in the Eastern Cordillera of the Colombian Andes. Altiplano means high plateau/plain in Spanish, and Cundiboycense is a combo of the names of the departments Cundinamarca and Boyacá – the two departments partly covered by the Altiplano Cundiboyacense.
The Altiplano Cundiboyacense can be divided into three distinct flat regions: the valleys of Duitama and Sogamoso, the valleys of Ubaté and Chiquinquirá, and the Botogá savanna. The altitude ranges from roughly 2,000 meters to 3,000 meters above sea level.
The earliest evidence of humans living in the Altiplano Cundiboyacense region is from 12,400 ± 160 years ago and were found in El Abra. This was when prehistoric animals such as the big elephant-like members of the genera Cuvieronius and Haplomastodon still roamed the region. The earliest evidence of agriculture in the region is from around 3,000 BCE.
When the Spaniards arrived, the Altiplano Cundiboyacense was inhabited by members of the Muisca Confederation. The economy of the Muisca was based on agriculture, especially potatoes, yuca and corn grown on elevated fields, where a complex system of irrigation and drainage had been developed. Corn (maize) was extremely important and the Muisca language (Chibcha / Muysccubun) contains a wide range of words for the various parts of the plants, the processing of corn and the finished products.