Monday, January 27, 2014

Locro de Papa or Traditional Potato Soup

At first, when I came to Ecuador, I lived in a town called Ibarra.

It is also called the White Town, La Ciudad Blanca, or The White Town Where You Always Return, La Ciudad Blanca Donde Siempre Se Vuelve.

According to the local knowledge it is so beautiful that your heart stays there and you always come back because you can’t stay away.

For me it is very true.

Ibarra (full name San Miguel de Ibarra) is a city in northern Ecuador and the capital of the Imbabura Province. It lies at the foot of the Imbabura Volcano and on the left bank of the Tahuando river. It is about 70 kilometres (43 mi) northeast of Ecuador's capital Quito.

Ibarra has a unique blend of students,mestizos, highland Indians and Afro-Ecuadorians
from the nearby Valle del Chota,a combination that gives the city an exciting
multicultural edge.
When you're through relaxing in its leafy plazas,take a stroll around the train station and
market area which is always abuzz with interesting activity.

Ibarra is my home in Ecuador.

I haven’t lived there for years, and I only lived four years in that town.

But it is where I was born to Ecuador.

The northern Ecuador, close to Colombian border, has its own culture and cuisine.

There is very much Kichwa influence but Northern Kichwas are very different from Southern Kichwas who live close to Peruvian border and can even understand their Quechua.

In the North spirit of Karanki, or Caranqui en Spanish, lives on.

Ibarra was founded in 1606 by the Spanish. Many churches and public buildings were built, but an earthquake in 1868 destroyed many of them.
The Inca ruler Atahualpa was born in the Incasettlement of Caranquí about 2 km from the city.
There is such a strong influence in the culture, we still remember Pacha, who married the Inca and united Northern Ecuadorian indigenous tribes with Incas.

And who later on became the mother of Atahualpa.

We could not be overcome by the Incas.

Imbabura is an inactive stratovolcano in northern Ecuador. Although it has not erupted for at least 14,000 years, it is not thought to be extinct. Imbabura is intermittently capped with snow and has no permanent glaciers.
Covered in volcanic ash, the slopes of Imbabura are especially fertile. In addition to cloud forests, which are found across the northern Andes to an altitude of 3000 m, the land around Imbabura is extensively farmed. Maize, sugarcane, and beans are all staple crops of the region. Cattle are also an important commodity, and much of the land on and around Imbabura, especially the high-altitude meadows above the tree line, is used for grazing.

Yawarkucha or Yawar Kucha (Kichwa yawar blood, kucha lake, "blood lake", hispanicized spellings  Yaguarcocha, Yahuarcocha) is a lake in Ecuador located in the Imbabura Province, Ibarra Canton. The lake is formed from glacial meltwater. It is the locale for many folklores. The name is an allusion to a violent battle that was fought here centuries ago.

Close to Ibarra there is a lake called Yawar kucha, lake of blood or Yaguarcocha in Spanish, because it was tinted in blood when Incan and Karanki warriors fought for the land.

Ibarra, and Imbabura, the province, are place of agriculture, millennial cultures and artisans.
Otavalo, known around the world to tourists, is in Imbabura with its huge artisan market that sells products from the villages all around Imbabura.

Zuleta is a small village in the beautiful highlands of Imbabura Province in Ecuador.  This agricultural area is famed for its traditional embroidery, dairy products, alpaca farming and highland crops such as wheat, maize, potatoes, lentils and quinoa.  The village is home to Hacienda Zuleta, a large farm once owned by an ex-president of the country.  Many people in Zuleta wear their traditional costumes on a daily basis and the village is a tranquil place.  Attractions include the community library and various embroidery workshops.
There is also Kutakachi, or Cotacachi in Spanish, famous among retired ex-pats because of its climate, and artisan leather products.

And right next to Ibarra, there is San Antonio de Ibarra, village full of sculptors who work beautiful statues with wood and stone in the age old Quito school style.
Kichwas from Zuleta
Members of Zuleta's evangelical church in Sunday service.

In the mountains around, in the slopes of Taita Imbabura, Volcan Father Imbabura, live the descendants of Karankis, Zuleteños, Angochagueños.

Around them rise and descend of the mountains and hidden valleys, waterfalls and stony peaks.

Amongst the eucalyptus and pine trees rise the chakiñans, hidden footpath, on slopes so steep that sometimes the sheep are torn from the ground by the wind and dropped in the valley below.
horseback rider among traffic
Traffic in Ibarra.

Typical Northern Ecuadorian construction and vegetation.

Above them the equatorial sun, the clear blue sky, and el condor rey, Andean giant condor.

Here the food of preference is potatoes, papa, and kuy, the guinea-pig, both indigenous to Andes.

One of the dishes I especially fell in love during the years I lived in Ibarra is locro de papa, a potato soup with fresh cheese.

To do a locro de papa you need:

- Potatoes (mealy or floury potatoes that you would use to make mashed potatoes)

- One small onion

- Fresh cheese

- Milk

- Scallions

- Salt

- Pepper

- Avocado

Add water until it barely covers the potatoes.

Boil the potatoes in the water, with salt, pepper and the small onion, until they start to undo and there is no more water.

I put the onion whole because my son doesn’t like to eat onion.

This way I get the taste but there are no onion pieces.

Add the milk when there is no more water.

Cut the cheese in little cubes.

Cut the scallions and add the cheese and scallions in the soup.

Boil until the cheese starts to melt.


Locro de papa with slice of avocado and fresh lemonade.

 Did you like this post? Would you like to read more about Otavalo and see picture from the artisan fair?


Did you like the recepy? Would you like to see another one to make a home remedy for the flu?

Home remedy for the flu


  1. It's wonderful that you have such an appreciation of this culture. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

  2. It looks so beautiful there. Thanks for sharing your knowledge of the culture, the food and the pictures.

  3. Wow this place looks very beautiful!!!! Potato soup looks yummy.. i can't wait to try this recipe.. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience

  4. I haven't had potato soup in forever, but I'm craving some now. It's perfect for this cool weather. By the way, I never would've thought to put avocado in my soup, but that sounds yummy! Thank you for sharing your photos. I love traveling and seeing places from around the world.

    1. It was totally weird for me too, Elisebeth, but it tastes great.

  5. It sounds like a wonderful experience. Ecuadorians are very friendly I hear. The soup looks very interesting, I might give it a try one day.

    1. That is true, Petro, people are very friendly here. Hope you like the soup!

  6. I really like the history behind it all, and then we see some modern day things.. very cool to see.

  7. Really beautiful place and lovely people. I hope to go to Ecuador one day as I did a project and would like to see the mess Chevron did there. Sure is a different kind of potato soup but looks delicious.

    1. I have seen some of that mess, and it's really heartbreaking. Luckily there are still places that haven't been destroyed.

  8. That looks really good. Never had avocado in my soup. Will have to try it.

    Michelle F.

    1. It is really delicious, Michelle. I recomend trying it out.

  9. great soup recipe - and i like that you had the picture of the church..... :D

    1. It is a very lovely church, Andi. Very honest people in their faith, the salt of the earth.

  10. Fascinating. Thanks so much for such a great glimpse into this corner of the world. I will use this to show my kids about the culture and heritage of Ecuador!

    1. I'm glad you liked it. And maybe you can make the soup afterwards and enjoy tasting Ecuador also :)

  11. Such a beautiful town. Great pictures. And thanks for sharing the recipe, looks yummy.

  12. I enjoyed the photos and the history lesson. I will definitely be giving your soup recipe a try. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I'm glad you liked it, Chrishelle. Let me know how the soup turned out.

  13. Beautiful pictures! Your little guys is so adorable. I would love to travel to Ecuador one day.

    1. Thank you, Bibiana. You should come, it's really beautiful here, the food is good and the people are nice. You'll love it!

  14. These are gorgeous pictures! I love potato soups so I will definitely have to try this one! Thanks for sharing all this wonderful information!

    1. Thank you, Cara. And let me know how the soup turned out :)

  15. That looks like a beautiful place! I love your photos. Have a fabulous day!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the pics, Cascia. Hope you have a lovely day also :)

  16. What a great recipe and I love your pics. -Amber Nelson

  17. I love trying new things to cook and I really love reading about other cultures! It is so interesting how different it is.

    1. You are so right, Zulema. It is really interesting to know about other cultures. I love to find out new things also :)