Sopa de verduras (vegetable soup) recipe
Two weekends ago, on National Soup Swap day, 19 women braved a snow storm and slick roads, their cars weighted down by quarts of frozen soup, to come to our third annual swap. (You can see some photos on our Facebook page.) Our swappers outdid themselves this year! First up, Sharon's El Salvadoran sopa de verduras, filled with vegetables I don't use often enough in my own kitchen: yuca, a starchy tuber that's a bit like a potato, and the delicate chayote squash. The soup also features plantain, which Sharon explains should be cooked with the skin on, so it doesn't fall apart. Then, as you plate each individual portion, remove and discard the skin. In place of white kidney beans, she sometimes uses fresh green beans. The soup relies on sazon, a zesty spice blend of cilantro, garlic, annato and salt, to flavor the broth, and the broth gives flavor to the mild root vegetables. You can buy sazon at the supermarket in the Latino foods section. If you've never cooked with it, be sure to look for "No MSG" on the package.
Sopa de verduras (vegetable soup)
Sharon's note on the recipe: My husband is from a tiny village in El Salvador where there are houses with dirt floors, and chickens running all around. He loves soup so I have tried to learn to make different soups that he likes. When I asked him how he liked this version, he told me, 'La sopa esta muy buena', which means 'the soup is very good'. I hope you like it, too.
Makes 8 quarts; can be halved.
1 red onion
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 packets Goya Sazon Seasoning
2 tsp sea salt
4 yuca, peeled and cubed
3 chayote squash, cored and cubed
2 large plantains, cut into slices crosswise (leave the skins on)
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/4 head red cabbage, chopped
1/8 cup chopped cilantro
5 qts water
2- 32-oz containers beef broth (I used Kendale Farm- no msg, gluten free)
2 15-oz cans white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Saute garlic and onion in extra virgin olive oil, and set aside. Peel yuca and cut into chunks. Core and cut chayote into chunks, about 6 pieces for an average size chayote. Cut plantains into slices with peel on. Cut carrots lengthwise, then in half. Cut cabbage into small wedges. Chop the cilantro.
Add the vegetables to a large soup pot and stir in the sauteed onion and garlic, and cilantro, along with the sea salt and Sazon seasoning, the water and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, for 3 to 4 hours.
You don’t want the yuca, chayote, and plantain to get mushy. When the vegetables are just cooked, stir in the beans, and turn off the heat. Let the soup sit a bit for the veggies to absorb the flavor of the soup broth. Then, refrigerate overnight and serve the next day.
We like to have ours with corn tortillas that my husband buys at a little Hispanic market in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. You can buy them almost anywhere. We pop the tortillas in the toaster and when they puff up a little and get brown, they are perfect with the soup and a chunk of hard cheese on the side.