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August 9, 2010

Cookbook: Latin Ladles

Latin Ladles 

In the first season of Top Chef Masters, we met Cuban-American chef Douglas Rodriguez, known as the king of Nuevo Latino cuisine and owner of restaurants in New York, Miami and Puerto Rico. He didn't make it to the finals, but his cooking on the show made me want to know more about him. And guess what? A few years back he wrote a soup cookbook. In Latin Ladles, Chef Rodriguez tossed all the cuisines of Central and South America into a pot, stirred them together, and came out with his own creative take on traditional and contemporary soups and stews.

All soup starts with good stock, and one of my favorite discoveries in Latin Ladles is corn stock, made with the cobs from which you've removed the sweet kernels. Usually those cobs end up in my compost pile, but corn stock -- flavored with leeks and onions, saffron, chiles, tomato paste and thyme -- is a great substitute for vegetable stock and the perfect base for chowders. Even if the soups in this book weren't fantastic (which they are), the corn stock recipe would be reason enough to have this book on my bookshelf.

Most of the recipes use ingredients found in any grocery store, but some recipes call for special ingredients: yuca, dende oil, calabaza, aji amarillo peppers, conch, chayote, malanga.

My supermarket doesn't carry these ingredients, so I'm off to the local Latino market now. While I'm out, why don't you choose the first soup to try from this wonderful cookbook? Honestly, I want to make them all, and I just can't decide where to start.

  • Bacalao a la nica -- Nicaraguan salted cod soup, with tomatoes, potatoes and parmesan cheese
  • Sopa de quinoa -- quinoa soup from the Andes, with chicken and lots of herbs
  • Fosforito Margariteño -- Matchmaking soup from Margarita Island, off the coast of Venezuela, a fish and shellfish soup much like a cioppino
  • Carbonada criolla -- a traditional Argentinian beef soup, with calabaza and corn
  • Guiso de chayote -- squash, potatoes, chicken, and ancho chile
  • Sopa de aguacate -- a vegan avocado and tomatillo soup

Leave your choice in the comments, and I'll get to work.

You'll be glad to have Latin Ladles in your cookbook collection. It's a virtual world tour by a passionate soup maker.


Posted by: Julia | August 9, 2010 at 10:18 AM

I like the idea of corn stock much better than veg. stock. For some reason, I've never liked the flavor of the later.

I have his "Nuevo Latino" cookbook and it's great!

And I vote for chicken and quinoa. :)

Posted by: Louise | August 9, 2010 at 02:51 PM

Sopa de quinoa gets my vote. I love having quinoa and other grains in my soup.

Posted by: pam | August 9, 2010 at 04:31 PM

This does sound like a good book! Though I first read it as "Latin Ladies!"

Posted by: Robyn | August 9, 2010 at 08:33 PM

Sopa de quinoa, please

Posted by: Cookin' Canuck | August 10, 2010 at 12:13 AM

They all sound fantastic, but I will have to give my vote to the Sopa de quinoa.

Posted by: susan g | August 10, 2010 at 09:09 AM

Another vote for the quinoa soup, a request to include the corn stock (and I read 'ladies' too). And we can still put the corn cobs on the compost. Multi-purpose-ing!
Another cookbook suggestion: Crescent Dragonwagon's Soup and Bread.

Posted by: kirsten | August 12, 2010 at 08:16 AM

how timely-I've got corn in the crisper and was planning on cooking and eating it tonight-I'll toss the cobs in the freezer for a soup stock when the temperature gets me more in a hot soup mood.


Posted by: Alta | August 13, 2010 at 06:16 PM

Either the quinoa soup or the avocado-tomatillo soup! Yum!

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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