Soup, beautiful soup

Tonight we tried this lovely soup from Gourmet magazine. It’s a traditional Andean soup, tinted with annatto seeds and topped with creamy avocado. I had high hopes for this soup, and it was good, but not amazing. I think it would benefit from using vegetable broth instead of water…it had that plain salted water feel to it.

So many of the flavors in this soup are so delicate…potatoes, queso fresco, avocado…so if you really want to appreciate those simple flavors, give it a try without any changes. I might make it again, using the broth (and less liquid total–it made a ton of soup!) and maybe a tad more cumin. Maybe even cream instead of whole milk. But then I guess I may as well make a regular potato soup, no?

Locro de Papas

  • 2 teaspoons annatto (achiote) seeds
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 1/2 pounds russet (baking) potatoes
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (rounded)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 5 1/2 ounces queso fresco
  • 2 large firm-ripe avocados

Heat annatto seeds and oil in a very small saucepan over low heat, swirling pan frequently, until oil is bright red-orange and starts to simmer, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into 3/4-inch pieces.

Pour annatto oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a wide soup pot, discarding solids. Cook onion and half of potatoes (reserve remaining potatoes in a bowl of cold water) in annatto oil over moderately high heat, stirring, until onion is softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add cumin, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring 1 minute. Add water (7 cups) and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are very tender, 25 to 30 minutes, then mash into broth. Drain remaining potatoes and add to stew, then simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in milk and cheese and increase heat to high, then bring to a simmer, stirring. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, quarter avocados lengthwise, then pit, peel, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Serve stew in large soup bowls, topped with avocado.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Source: Gourmet magazine.

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