Tag Archives: mexico

Pumpkin and Chorizo Soup

14 Jan


I figure it’s safe to post a pumpkin recipe now. For a while there (all of October and November) I thought I was going to drown in pumpkin-flavored products. Is it just me, or are they becoming more and more prominent every year? Regardless, pumpkin soup is a hearty, warming way to enjoy the cold months of fall and winter, and I didn’t want to let spring hit me before sharing this recipe.

Like many foods we enjoy today, pumpkins are a product of the New World, and entered Europe in the 15th century. Most foods introduced during that time took a while to gain momentum in Europe – sometimes hundreds of years – but not the pumpkin. Because they resembled gourds and squashes common in the Old World, pumpkins were readily adopted and prized for their robust flavor and easy cultivation. It was quickly made into various soups, and mixed with honey and spices as early as the 17th century – a precursor to pumpkin pie.

For today’s recipe I wanted to keep pumpkin closer to its place of origin – North America – so I decided to focus on a Mexican soup commonly referred to as Sopa de Calabaza, often flavored with cumin and chorizo sausage. I really like the cyclical nature of this dish. Cumin was first cultivated in India and introduced to the Americas by the Portuguese and Spanish. Chorizo is the best of both worlds: Old World sausage flavored with paprika made by New World peppers, and later re-introduced to the Americas. So this dish is the product of the unique culinary marriage of these two continents and cultures.

While pre-roasting a whole pumpkin inevitably lends more depth of flavor, using canned pumpkin puree drastically cuts down on your cooking time and effectively turns this dish into a 30-minute meal. Continue reading

Mexican Tripe Soup (Pancita/Menudo)

23 Jul


Alright, people. You must have known this recipe was coming sooner or later. For the past year or so I have been playing around with nourishing soups (recent examples are here and here), so I thought it was time to tackle the mother of them all: Menudo. This tripe soup is often considered the ultimate hangover cure, similar to many bone broth soups found worldwide.

In Northern Mexico, Menudo is cooked with hominy, which is a form of corn that has been soaked in an alkaline solution. This process (called nixtamalization) removes the hull and germ from the kernel, effectively removing most of corn’s toxic anti-nutrients and making it more digestible. This process has been around since at least 1500 BCE, when people in present-day Mexico and Guatemala would soak their corn in water mixed with wood ash. If you do decide to use hominy in your recipe, be sure to get the organic stuff to ensure it isn’t made with GMO corn. But definitely feel free to omit the hominy and still consider the recipe authentic: it is also called Pancita in some regions, and from what I can tell Pancita also doesn’t usually include hominy.

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Nopales (Grilled Cactus Paddles)

30 Apr


With spring upon us, I’ve been looking to expand my grilling options. The idea of cooking and eating a cactus might sound intimidating, but the reality is much simpler than you’d think. All you have to do is scrape off their thorns, and grill them – it’s that easy.

Nopales are the paddles of oputina (prickly pear) cactus, commonly found in Mexico. They are a common vegetable in Mexico, and taste a little like green beans, but slightly more acidic. They are a great addition to grilled meat dishes, or tasty just on their own. They are also often sliced/diced and served with eggs or in salads.

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