What Is Caldo De Costilla?

Andy Josiah

Caldo de costilla is a soup from the South American country of Colombia that primarily consists of beef ribs and potatoes boiled in water. Other main ingredients include cilantro, garlic and onions. It is one of the soups typical of the country’s cuisine. Caldo de costilla means “rib broth” in Spanish.

Caldo de costilla can be served with boiled potatoes.
Caldo de costilla can be served with boiled potatoes.

The origin of caldo de costilla is traced to the region of Colombia that houses the Andes. This is known as the longest continental mountain range in the world. Covering the western coast of South America, the Andean region includes six other countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. The specific section of the Andes that caldo de costilla hails from is the Paisa region, which is in northwest Colombia.

Caldo de costilla is commonly used as a hangover remedy.
Caldo de costilla is commonly used as a hangover remedy.

People start off the preparation of caldo de costilla by heating oil in a large pot or pressure cooker. The ribs are then added and browned, and chopped carrots and celery, sliced onions and broth are introduced. Some people prefer to cook the ribs first to produce the broth, while others simply buy the broth.

Meanwhile, potatoes are boiled in another pot until soft. The contents of the first pot are brought to a simmer for about two hours, or about 40 minutes in a pressure cooker, until the ribs are tender. The soup is then served with the potatoes, with cilantro leaves and diced onions sprinkled in as garnish in the end.

Caldo de costilla is traditionally eaten as a breakfast meal. A dish that is commonly enjoyed with the soup is arepa. This is a round and flat patty made from corn meal or corn flour, and it bears similarities to the tortilla. In addition to Colombia, it is particularly well known in Latin American and Caribbean countries such as the Canary Islands, Panama and Venezuela. Caldo de costilla is also enjoyed with bread and chocolate. Some people prefer to eat the meal with Aguila, a beer made by Colombia’s Bavaria Brewery, which is headquartered in the country’s capital of Bogota.

People commonly use caldo de costilla as a hangover remedy. For this reason, it is sometimes called levantamuertos, which means “death’s awaker” in Spanish. Some entrepreneurs, noting areas with high concentrations of drinking establishments, open restaurants in these areas and stretch their hours of operation into the night. This way, people going to the bars or clubs nearby can patronize these restaurants that serve caldo de costilla afterward.

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