Potherb Soup – Sopa de quelites

Click here to go to printable recipe:  Potherb soup – Sopa de quelites

This potherb soup is a great dish to continue the theme from  my previous posts, featuring certain edible weeds that may be easily foraged from the backyard garden, and recipes from the Mexican state of Tlaxcala.  Soups using foraged potherbs have been prepared in Central Mexico since pre-Hispanic times, combined with other plant foodstuffs, such as local mini-potatoes (originally from Peru), native seasonings like onions and salt, and Mexican parcel (milpa) staples, namely, beans, tomatoes, summer squash and quintoniles (pigweed, Amaranthus retroflexus).  After the Spanish conquest, more ingredients have been added, such as garlic, and other potherbs, for example, spinach, Swiss chard, and lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album); lamb’s quarters are now endemic in the American continent, known generically in Mexico as quelite de cocina – kitchen potherb. 

In my garden, I could not find pigweed, but I had plenty of lamb’s quarters, and my crop of luminous “Ruby Red” Swiss chard is doing great.  I bought mini potatoes, and since my summer squash is just starting to bloom, I also bought some zucchini:

Garden lamb’s quarters and Swiss chard, along with store-bought zucchini and mini potatoes.

This regional recipe is an excellent vegan soup, and very nutritious.  Green hot peppers, such as serranos or jalapeños, may be offered at the table, or omitted for a completely mild, yet flavourful meal.

Potherb Soup – Sopa de quelites

Printable recipe:  Potherb soup – Sopa de quelites

Ingredients (for four to six portions)

1 bunch potherbs (pigweed, lamb’s quarters, spinach, Swiss chard, etc.); washed
3 tomatoes; washed
1 clove garlic; peeled
¼ white onion; peeled
2 zucchini; washed
1 lb (454 g) mini potatoes; scrubbed well
2 cups cooked black beans; drained
4 cups water
Salt and black pepper, to taste
To serve:  
Warm corn tortillas
Serrano or jalapeño peppers (optional); washed

Remove and discard damaged leaves and tough stems from potherbs.  For Swiss chard, the stems may be used if removed form the leafy parts first:

Prep all vegetables (clockwise from left): Coarsely chop potherbs; remove ends from zucchini, cut into  quarters lengthwise, then slice; cut mini potatoes into halves; chop Swiss chard stems (if using):

Place tomatoes, onion and garlic on a Mexican flat grill (comal) or an iron skillet, over medium-high heat (photo below, left).  Roast, turning around, until nicely charred (tatemados); once garlic is ready, place on a piece of onion while finishing the rest of the vegetables, so it will not burn and turn bitter (photo below, right):

Allow to cool for a few minutes, then remove stem spots from tomatoes, and place in a blender jar, along with the onion and garlic (photo below, left).  Process for about one minute, until perfectly blended; it will make about two cups of sauce (photo below, right):

Warm up an empty large pot over high heat, then add the sauce from the blender.  Cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes;  add water to the pot (photo below, left).  Bring to boil, then add potatoes and Swiss chard stems (if using), as shown in the photo below, right:

Bring back to boil, then reduce heat to low, and cover pot (photo below, left).  Once the potatoes are cooked but firm (about 5 minutes), uncover pot and incorporate beans (photo below, right): 

Add zucchini (photo below, left), and cook for another three to five minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste; incorporate reserved potherbs (photo below, right):  

 Turn off the heat and cover the pot.  The soup is ready once the potherbs have wilted:

Serve hot with warm corn tortillas and hot peppers (if using) on the side:

Although not part of traditional recipes, this soup is also very tasty with the addition of lime juice, to taste.


Approximate nutrition values Potherb soup

As seen in the chart above, this soup is a good source of fibre, protein, iron, calcium and potassium.  The analysis was based on Swiss chard, so some credit must be given if using foraged potherbs, such as lamb’s quarters, which would contribute, like Swiss chard, with vitamins A and C, fibre, calcium and potassium, but also with manganese, and vitamins B2, B3 and B6. 


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I am bringing my recipe to Full Plate Thursday #598 with Miz Helen @ Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.


I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #550, with Bev @ Eclectic Red BarnPam @ An Artful MomKatherine @ Katherine’s CornerAmber @ Follow the Yellow Brick HomeTheresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.


I am joining Fiesta Friday # 442  with Angie @ Fiesta Friday, this week co-hosting with Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.


I am also sharing my recipe at What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up #377 with Helen @ The Lazy Gastronome.  

9 thoughts on “Potherb Soup – Sopa de quelites

    1. It is definitely a “must try”, the flavours and textures are very well balanced. If you’d like it less “soupy”, reducing the amount of water would help, and/or adding some broth from the cooked beans.

      Liked by 1 person

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