Place the cut-up hen in the cold water with the herbs and salt and pepper and cook slowly until the hen is tender. While it is cooking, chop the onion, tomatoes, peppers. and add to the pot with the garlic. Cut the corn and plantains in 1 1/2-inch pieces and add. Then chop the remaining vegetables (not too small) and add. Continue cooking until all the vegetables are tender. Season to taste. For a little more zip, add a bit of hot pepper. Serve in large soup dishes. For meat sancocho use 2 pounds of beef brisket or flank steak (cut-up) and increase the quantity of vegetables.