Recipes for Change: Chairo soup

Climate change is contributing to increased temperatures and changing growing seasons in Bolivia. Small farmers are finding it harder to decide when to plant and when to harvest. This adversely affects staple food crops such as potatoes.

Extreme weather events are also causing unprecedented rainfall and drought leading to a loss of harvest.  IFAD's Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP)  offers solutions for smallholder farmers in Bolivia. 

In the next episode of Recipes for Change that will be released in the coming weeks, the Bolivian chef Marco Bonifaz who is based in La Paz and is owner of the Flanigan's Cave Gourmet restaurant, travels to Corocoro, in Pacajes Province. Here he learns more about Bolivia's world famous food culture, and finds out exactly how climate change is threatening the ingredients that make the local cuisine so unique.

He joins a local farmers family to make Chairo soup. This is a chunky broth flavoured with herbs and types of grains. The soup's main ingredient is Chuño – freeze-dried potatoes. These are a staple ingredient in the Bolivian diet and are made by leaving frost-resistant potatoes out overnight in sub-zero temperatures then exposing them to the hot sunlight in the daytime. This happens five or six nights in a row. The resulting product is then stored and can be kept for months, sometimes years.

Chairo soup serves 4

Per serving  • Calories:  300 • Fat: 9g • Carbs: 33g • Protein:  21g

  • 2lb shoulder of lamb, cut into 4 pieces   
  • 100g  lamb or beef  jerky
  • 400ml water
  • 100g  ‘chuño'/potato
  • 2 peeled and  thinly sliced potatoes
  • 70g soaked wheat grains
  • 70g thinly sliced  carrots
  • 70g thinly sliced  turnip
  • 130g  fava beans
  • Herb bundles of basil, coriander and  parsley
  • 130g  ‘mote'/dried maize
  • A spring  onion,  chopped

Prep  - 24 hours  ahead of cooking
To make  chuño take 500g of small potatoes, cut in half and place in freezer  until hard.  Usually  24  hours. Place maize  and  wheat grains  in water  to soak  overnight.

  • Wash  meat  thoroughly put  in a large  pot  with a lid and  cover
    with the water.  Place over medium heat.
  • Bring  to  boil and  foam  will start  to  appear on  top.  Remove
    foam.  Repeat this 3-4 times.
  • Add all other  ingredients to the  boiling stew. Turn down  heat
    and  simmer  for 20-30  mins. Keep lid on. Stir occasionally.
  • Serve. Add salt and  pepper to taste.

Climate threat to potatoes:

  • Increased temperatures
  • Changes in growing  seasons
  • Increased incidence of extreme weather

ASAP solutions

  • Introduction of more  appropriate and  hardy varieties of potatoes
  • Improved water  management and  cultivation practises with yields maintained or even increased