Caldo de Costilla (Colombian Beef Rib Soup)

Caldo de Costilla (Colombian Beef Rib Soup)

This hearty soup from the Colombian Andes uses a handful of ingredients and takes only a few minutes of active time to put together. It’s traditionally served for breakfast (especially after a night of dancing and drinking) along with hot chocolate and arepas, but it’s hearty enough to serve for any meal. Because of its relatively neutral flavor profile, it’s good to make in large batches (the beef broth can easily be doubled or tripled through Step 4) to be doctored into different dishes (see Tip).
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Reserve a small handful of cilantro and 5 scallions. To a large stockpot or Dutch oven, add the split onion, the garlic cloves, the cumin seeds and the beef. Cover with water by 2 inches (3 to 4 quarts total).
  2. Step 2

    Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a very bare simmer. Using a ladle, skim off and discard any solid scum that has collected on the surface. Roughly chop the remaining cilantro and scallions, and add them to the pot. Cover and cook until the beef is tender and a skewer or knife shows no resistance when poked through the meat, 2½ to 3 hours.
  3. Step 3

    Using tongs or a skimmer, remove the meat with the bones to a large plate and set aside.
  4. Step 4

    Set a fine mesh strainer in a large bowl and strain the broth. Discard the solids. Scrub out the pot, then return the broth to it and season to taste with salt. (It should taste quite salty.) Proceed immediately to the next step, or return the beef to the broth and refrigerate in sealed containers for up to a week before continuing (or adapting into one of the alternate serving methods, see Note).
  5. Step 5

    Peel the potatoes, halve or quarter them lengthwise, then cut crosswise into ⅓- to ½-inch-thick slices and add them to the broth. Simmer the potato slices in the broth until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Return the beef to the broth.
  6. Step 6

    Roughly chop the reserved cilantro and scallions, and add to the broth. Serve immediately.