Post #1: Amarillo Soup Recipe

Hello readers and fellow bloggers! I made it, just barely! (With eight minutes to spare, too!)

Here is my very first “Post A Day 2011” post. It’s a recipe for a ridiculously delicious soup simply called Amarillo soup.

This soup was first made for me by my boyfriend’s mother, and several years later, I asked her to let me photograph her while she made it. At this point I had enjoyed the dish several times, and yet when I found out the ingredients I was completely surprised.

When asked what this soup tastes like, I always say the same thing: “Christmas.” There’s just something about it – perhaps it’s the cinnamon, perhaps  it’s the hearty, warming mouth-feel (if you will) of the soup … whatever it is, it makes me feel all cozy and Christmas-y every time.

The main ingredient is this soup is guisquil. Guisquil (pronounced “wee-sqeel”) is a light greenish yellow vegetable that belongs to the gourd family. Usually steamed or boiled, guisquil tastes and looks starchy like a potato, but with more of a “green” taste, like … I don’t know, cabbage? At least to me it does. Others have described it as having a “nutty” flavor. (BTW, Guisquil is also known as “chayote,” “vegetable pears” and “christophene.”) Learn more here.

Please note! My boyfriend’s mother learned this recipe from her mother, who learned it from her mother, who of course learned it from her mother, and so on and so on. When I asked her if she would share the recipe with me, she showed me a page from a very worn pocket address book. On it were a few handwritten lines in faded black ink.  In Spanish. I understood only about half of what was written.

She quickly ticked off six ingredients on the fingers of her left hand, followed that with a few scant instructions and some elaborate hand gestures, and then, with a dismissive smile, turned back to her novelas.

I knew I would have to try another approach. I was going to have actually watch her make the soup, from start to finish, and better yet, what if I documented it?

With that said, I have two apologies: Firstly, there are no actual concrete measurements in this recipe. And second, I’m afraid I don’t have photos of several key steps. I’m truly sorry! It’s a long, boring story that frankly, just makes me look stupid. 🙂 I won’t waste your time.

So, with that said, here we go!

Begin by boiling one whole chicken, cut up and disjointed, in a large pot. Cook for thirty minutes and then remove to dry. Do not throw the “chicken water” away; instead, reduce heat.

Dice the guisquil into cubes and chunks.

Just how much guisquil, you ask? Well, about this much:

Like I said, we’re making do here, folks.

Pour diced guisquil into the chicken water, now reduced to a low heat. Add fresh black pepper and salt to taste.

Preheat a clean cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in one entire container of cherry or grape tomatoes and one quarter of a cinnamon stick. Roast until skins are slightly blackened and loose. (Note! If you don’t want charred little tomatoes, you can just slightly roast them a bit until tender, like we did this time. )

Meanwhile, fry chicken pieces until golden brown and crispy. Return to water with guisquil.

In a blender, add blackened tomatoes and three champurradas, broken up into pieces.

Champurradas are round, flat sweet breads from Guatemela. They resemble large cookies and I referred to them as such for quite a few years until my boyfriend’s mother told me with a laugh that no, they weren’t cookies, they were sweet breads.

My boyfriend and his family eat them with coffee, much like a biscotti. They taste almost the same, too, if you will.

We buy them at local bakeries here in Los Angeles, but if you can’t find them, here’s a recipe I found on the web: Click here!

Blend tomatoes, champurradas and a dash or two more of black pepper until liquefied.

Stir into pot with guisquil and chicken.

Add more fresh black pepper and salt to taste. Let simmer for about half an hour, until guisquil is tender, stirring gently every few minutes or so.

If you like, before letting the soup simmer, you can liquefy a few scoopfuls of the entire mixture (minus the chicken of course) and add it back in. This will help thicken up the soup.

And that’s it! Easy, right? And so, so, so delicious. Try it tonight. Better yet, try it now!

Thanks for reading everyone! Happy cooking!

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