A Gringo’s Guide to Making an Argentine Guiso (Stew)

15 May

Argentine Guiso (Stew)

As colder weather comes to Buenos Aires and winter gets closer, you’re more likely to see different traditional meals presented in local restaurants. If you have local friends, they’ll probably be talking about making these dishes at home too. One such dish that I decided to take a first attempt at today is the guiso, or stew. Making a guiso de lentejas, or lentil stew, I asked my friend Vero for a recipe, so first, let’s give her a round of applause for taking the time to find the right, simple instructions for me and talking me through it. I like trying new dishes but am always a bit nervous the first few times I cook them.

A guiso (pronounced gee-soh) is a thick and filling meal that gives you all of the proteins and calories needed for a winter day, plus some extra ones. Therefore, it’s not a dish that you should eat everyday, but if you find yourself bored over the weekend, give this recipe a try. It took me longer that I had anticipated, and I needed over an hour just to chop up all of the vegetables and make the preparations before I even started cooking, yet once I had the ingredients ready, it was simply a matter of keeping an eye on the pot and adding and stirring when necessary.

The end result


  • 1/2 packet of lentils
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 green onions (diced)
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • pork (depending on your preference)
  • 1 spicy sausage (chorizo)
  • 100 grams of bacon (Canadian bacon might work best)
  • 1 box of tomato pure
  • 1 sweet potato (cut in cubes)
  • 1 potato (cut in cubes)
  • 1 carrot (cut in slices)
  • a small piece of pumpkin or squash
  • 1/2 spoonful of ground red peppers
  • 1/2 spoonful of oregano
  • parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking oil
  • bouillon cube (broth)


1. Soak the lentils overnight in a bowl with enough water to cover the lentils and absorb.

2. Take your cut up pieces of sausage, bacon and pork and put them in a bowl with a little bit of oil, cooking on low heat until they slightly fry and turn golden.

3. In a very large pot put some cooking oil to fry the diced onions, green peppers, red peppers, adding in the now slightly cooked meat and carrots. Fry for a minute or two and then add the tomato pure. Add in the bouillon at the same time, along with the parsley, garlic sliced in a few thin sections, and cook for 30 minutes or until the meat is tender.

4. Add the potatoes and sweet potatoes, stir lightly for five minutes.

5. Keep an eye on the level of liquid in the pot. Continually add water if necessary and make sure that all of the ingredients are submerged or covered by water, otherwise they will not cook properly.

6. After you’ve added the potatoes and waited five minutes, add the lentils, stirring and cooking for another 15 minutes on low-medium heat. Add more bouillon if necessary to get a thicker concoction. Adjust the condiments as necessary. For better results, leave the stew on a lower heat and let it simmer while partially covered until the potatoes are soft and a fork easily goes through.

Important: It’s important to add the salt and pepper at the end of the cooking process, after you’ve tried the stew, because the chorizo, bacon and pork will already add salt to it.

There you go. In just a couple of hours you can go from hungry to a pro in traditional Argentine cooking. I was pleasantly surprised by how well my guiso came out, and with so much abundance, I’ll be eating this for a couple of days to come.

Buen provecho!

6 Responses to “A Gringo’s Guide to Making an Argentine Guiso (Stew)”

  1. The Travel Chica May 15, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

    Um…. that’s a lot of ingredients. I am impressed. I think the most difficult meal I’ve ever made had 5 ingredients. Looks delicious, but I think this pathetic cook will have to buy this in a restaurant.

    • Jon May 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

      Thanks! One thing I should have mentioned is that yes, these are a lot of ingredients and it cost me a lot of money to make this. We’re looking at probably $60 ARS easily, which when compared, could buy you a nice steak in a decent restaurant. However, this made me a HUGE pot of food, and if you shared the expenses with a few friends, you’re looking at a cheap, good meal, and if made with friends, it can be pretty fun.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. ayngelina May 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    Fortunately Stephanie lives with me and I think it looks delicious, on my things to make this week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • Jon May 15, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

      Excellent! Thanks for commenting as well. I hope it comes out well. You can also use more or less of these ingredients. Since it’s a stew you can do whatever you want, really.

  3. antony January 17, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    Well,somebody finally put this recipe online. I am from New York but have lived the last ten years in Buenos Aires. There are a few dishes that exemplify Argentine Cuisine .Firstly, Guiso but also: Locro, Estofado, Cazuela and a Parrillada I amde this recipe but I omitted the tomatoes and added more lentls..not bad however the Portenos always add Albahaca (Basil) to it.Pretty Good

  4. Mercedes Ferreira January 13, 2018 at 5:27 pm #

    Loved it! I did add more lentils and broth, but let me tell you that it came out delicious! I am from Uruguay, and we usually have my husband make since I had no clue how to cook this dish. This is one of our family’s favorite, and we have now adopted this recipe. I would like to add that even though it is a lot of stew, we usually freeze it to have it at a later date.
    Mercedes F

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