It is partly because of a soup like this, that I want to write a cookbook.
A soup that makes me feel all warm inside when I spoon it into my mouth.
A soup that has the earthiness and simplicity that grounds me.
A soup that, aside from having a comforting base, has layers of surprising life and color and crunch.
A soup that makes me want to eat nothing else for an entire week.
A soup that speaks of centennial traditions and is passed down through generations recipes.
A soup that is a pleasure to think about, to write about, to talk about, to prepare and to savor.
It is mostly because I want to share a soup like this with you, dear friends, that I am jumping to write this cookbook.
So with great news to share: I will be working with the delightful Rux Martin, editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, to make this cookbook come to life.
In this book, I will write about -and tell you how to make- all of those foods that make me want to scream out of joy, along with the stories that revolve around them.
So here you go, for this Fall season, which has already galloped in front of me as I was barely putting away my monsters’ bathing suits: The Sopa Tarasca. One of my favorite soups in the whole entire world.
As with many Mexican dishes, it has a base of tomato, onion and a bit of garlic.
But it also has the addition of the prune like, exuberant flavor of the Ancho chile.
After those ingredients are cooked, pureed and seasoned, they are mixed with a bean puree…
and chicken broth…
As if that earth shattering base wasn’t enough, this soup is garnished, to your liking with Queso Fresco…
Ripe Mexican avocado chunks…
And the tangy and salty notes from Mexican cream…
Of course you can toss in some Chile crisps in there too…
From the Purépechas -also known as Tarascos- who inhabit the mountainous regions of the soulful state of Michoacán, and after whom this soup was named in its colonial capital of Morelia where I have eaten it one too many times, to the city of Washington DC in the United States of America, where I make it regularly for my Mexican American family: and hopefully it will find a place at your table too.
I lost my breath in that sentence…
p.s. If you have any Mexican food craving, just name the dish, I will try to make a page for it in that cookbook.
For the soup:
- 6 cups of bean puree
- 1 pound ripe plum or roma tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 ancho chile, steam and seeds removed
- 1/2 cup white onion, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
- 3 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
For the garnishes:
- 4 Corn tortillas, cut in half and into strips, fried until lightly golden or toasted
- 1/2 cup cotija or queso fresco cheese, crumbled (farmers cheese, ricotta salata, mild feta or shredded mozzarella cheese may be substituted)
- 1/2 cup fresh Mexican cream, heavy cream or cream fraiche may by substituted
- 1 ancho chile, stem and seeds removed, cut into thin strips, flash fried (optional)
- 1 Mexican avocado, peeled, seeded, flesh scooped out and diced
- Place the tomatoes, garlic, and the seeded and stemmed ancho chile in a saucepan, cover with water and simmer over medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until tomatoes are completely cooked through. Once the tomato mix cools down, place it in a blender or food processor with a cup of the cooking liquid, the raw white onion and a teaspoon of the salt; puree until smooth.
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the tomato puree and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it darkens in color and thickens in consistency. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the bean puree and broth or water, simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the soup has seasoned and has a creamy consistency. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Turn off the heat as it thickens quickly.
- The soup without the added garnishes may be cooled and stored in a closed container and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Since it thickens a bit as it cools, you may need to add some chicken broth or water to thin it out when you reheat it.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle on top a tablespoon each of cream and cheese, a handful of tortilla strips, a few fried chile strips and some diced avocado. You can also place garnishes in bowls on the table to let your guests garnish to their liking.