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:
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
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
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.
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 sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #550, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.