Not that I need much encouraging, but I’ve been compiling a good number of older cookbooks – early titles by authors I love, first editions, and such. The intent is to make them available at some point related to Quitokeeto – perhaps not on the site, more likely at the studio so people can pick and choose and browse in person. An example would be a book like this one – Diana Kennedy’s Recipes from the Regional Cooks of Mexico published in 1978. It’s the sort of title I like to revisit, for inspiration in my own kitchen, but also to understand what was inspiring Diana Kennedy in the 1970s. One of the recipes she highlights is a green corn soup – Sopa Verde de Elote. A soup she describes as “unusual and delicious” from Mi Libro de Cocina, published in San Luis Potosi in 1965. I took a few liberties with the recipe, and have to tell you, the resulting soup is something special. The color is a knockout – bright, vibrant green. And the flavor is surprisingly dynamic beyond the main base ingredients. There is the sweetness of corn and peas off-set by a spike of green chile, a finishing dollop of creme fraiche, and generous squeeze of lime. You get crunch from pepitas, fragrant green citrus notes from a shower of cilantro, and, as a bonus, it’s a soup that comes together quite quickly.
I mention it in the headnotes below, the original recipe calls for tomatillos, which are easy to find at some points in the year, and not so easy at others. I did this version with zucchini, in case tomatillo is trick to come by – which I suspect it is for many of you. Different, but, I’d argue, equally tasty. xo -h
Sopa Verde de Elote
HS note: (Defrosted) frozen peas and corn are fine to use here. Also, as I mentioned up above, the original recipe calls for tomatillo in place of the zucchini I used here. It’s what I had on hand, and I also figured it would make the recipe more accessible to many of you. If you prefer to give the tomatillo a go, use a few small ones, and remove their outer lantern-like covering. Proceed with them whole in place of the zucchini.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small-med zucchini, seeded, chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 white onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups corn kernels
3 1/2 – 4 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup green peas
a small handful of fresh cilantro, plus more to serve
1 small serrano chile, charred and peeled*
3 large romaine lettuce leaves, or equivalent
2 1/2 – 3 teaspoons fine grain sea salt, or to taste
to serve: toasted pepitas, creme fraiche or salted yogurt, lime wedges, cilantro, chopped roasted serrano
Heat one tablespoon of the butter in a large soup pot, add the zucchini and cook for a few minutes, until soft. Remove from the skillet and blend using a hand blender or standard blender. I like a little texture here, but it is a matter of preference – smooth is also fine.
Wipe out the skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, and fry the onion and garlic, without browning, until soft. Add the pureed zucchini and cook over high heat for about three minutes, stirring constantly.
Blend the corn kernels in a separate bowl, or blender, with 2 cups of water, peas, cilantro, chile, and lettuce leaves. Really aim to get the mixture very smooth before adding to the zucchini mixture. Cook over medium-high heat for another few minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan constantly. Add another 1 1/2 cups of water, or more, depending on the consistency you like. Add the salt, plus more to taste, if needed. Serve with lots of the suggested toppings.
*To char the chiles: place whole chiles on a hot skillet or grill, cook, rotating regularly, until blistered and charred on all sides. Transfer to a glass bowl, cover, and let steam for a few minutes. Now the chiles are ready to peel.
Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 10 min