This soup is an ode to good days, good weeks, and an homage to all things ephemeral and fresh, like each new day. While this bright soup could certainly be made year round (and I encourage it) there is a certain magic that comes from using the bounty the season lavishes upon us. This soup draws its character by falling in the moments between: The brief shelf life of an avocado after it’s opened; a zucchini blossom before it wilts; The moments it takes for the sugars in sweet corn to convert to starch after it’s harvested and husked. These are moments to appreciate rather than lament. Moments that inspire pause and an embrace of the pure potential of just being. After all, it’s an artfully strung together series of seemingly unremarkable moments that leads to the remarkable ones.
Zucchini and tomatillos comprise the base of this soup. Peas and corn, the stray marbles and kernels now rolling across my kitchen floor, add a sweetness and texture complemented by the brightness of a lime and the smoke and heat from the charred serrano chili. Plentiful and thus affordable this time of year, I’ve been stocking up on everything these days.
A lot of times navigating my way through the world feels like a vicious confidence game played on a muddy field. The conditions are always changing and the footing is tenuous at best. The kitchen certainly felt like that at first too. However, the longer you slush through the mud or work your way through different recipes, the more you’ll realize you’ve gained a certain literacy–the fortitude that comes with knowing that it’s not your first rodeo. This is what I like most about a recipe like this. It was just screaming for an avocado. Or fresh olive oil. It needed wilted zucchini flowers and a nut or seed to really elevate the texture to a regal estate. These are things you figure out by having done it before. I also suspect that you could dump all of the ingredients into the pot in one shot and it would be just as good, but I didn’t want to mess with the texture so I made it in batches.
The markets in Mexico are stocked with these ingredients almost year round and it was such a joy to see them all here. Like French food, and often French culture, the Mexican food and culture are often misunderstood. The cuisine of Mexico is often light and innovative capitalizing upon seasonal ingredients, not the heavy, cheese and bean-slathered fare we see Stateside. This soup is a seasonal take on elote, but wearing its lighter, more elegant summer clothes. It’s a remarkable keeper.
Have a great rest of the week! Why am I baking pies at 11pm and then replenishing all the fruits I used up just to do it again the next week?! Do you do that?
SOPA VERDE DE ELOTE
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small-med zucchini, seeded, chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
- 3-4 small tomatillos, chopped into quarters
- 1/2 white onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups corn kernels
- 3 1/2 – 4 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup green peas
- 3-4 zucchini flowers (optional)
- a small handful of fresh cilantro, plus more to serve
- 1 or 2 small serrano chili, charred and peeled (see instructions below)
- handful of baby arugula or baby spinach
- 2 1/2 – 3 teaspoons fine grain sea salt, or to taste
- Toasted pepitas
- Greek yogurt
- lime wedges
- chopped roasted serrano
For Charring the Serrano Chilis:
Place whole chilis 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.
For the Soup:
Heat one tablespoon of the butter in a large soup pot, add the zucchini and tomatillos and cook for a few minutes, until soft. Remove from the pot and blend using a hand blender or standard blender, until smooth.
Heat the oil in the same pot you used for the zucchini/tomatillo mixture and cook the onion and garlic, until translucent and soft. Add the pureed zucchini/tomatillo and cook over high heat for about three minutes, stirring constantly.
In a separate bowl, blend the corn kernels with 2 cups of water, peas, cilantro, chili, and arugula or spinach and zucchini flowers. Really aim to get the mixture very smooth. When smooth, add to the pot with 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. Don’t skip on these, they add so much! Buen provecho!