Caldo de Verduras con Chochoyotes

Hey, now. That was quite the hiaitus. I used up my December creative juices on a tamalada and 80 dozen cookies and was enjoying myself so much I forgot to take pictures. This was great for me, but sad for the blog.
So, happy new year! It’s a cold, grey, windy day for the first time in weeks. Which means soup at our house. Caldo de verduras con chochoyotes, to be precise. (Vegetable soup with corn flour dumplings.)

I can just hear you – cho-cho-what? Funny story, that one. Last fall I was making some veggie soup. I grew up with dumplings on stew, and I started to wonder if they had a similar tradition in Mexico – short answer, yes! And I discovered a really awesome blog in the process! (Go check it out!)
With a really fun-to-say name, this is a double win. How can you not smile when you say chochoyote. I mean, come on!
Ready to play?

Caldo de verduras con chochoyotes
serves: 4-6

For the soup:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ small white onion, large dice
3 carrots, peeled and in soup-sized discs
4 ribs celery, in soup-sized chunks
2 zucchini, in soup-sized chunks
3 garlic cloves, coarsly chopped
1 can low sodium diced tomatoes
4 quarts chicken (or vegetable) broth
1/4 packet menudo soup spices Or, about 2 Tbsp. (NOT the ground kind, the dried leafy kind.)
Briefly saute the chopped veg in the oil in a large soup pot. Then add in the tomatoes, broth and spices. Turn to medium-low. This is going to look sparse at first – like a LOT of broth and so few veg. The dumplings will absorb a lot of the liquid, and act as a thickener, too. It will be lovely, swearsies.

Make the masa for the dumplings.
Mix 1 c. masa harina with ½ tsp. salt and ¾ c. warm tap water. This will make a thick crumbly mess. Add 2 Tbsp fat (bacon fat, lard, or crisco – bacon is the best) and with clean hands, knead the dough until it is combined. It should be firm and not sticky, like a play-do consistency. Roll it in to 4 logs about a 1.5” in diameter and 5” long. Cover and set aside at room temp for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, the soup should be at a bare simmer. After the wait, take one of the masa logs, break it in to 5 even pieces and roll each one in to a ball. With your thumb (or an implement, I used the end of my lemon reamer because fingernail marks in the dumplings sick me out.) But I digress. So, put a dimple in each dough ball so that it looks like a little bowl, and gently place each one in the pot. Gently shake the pot to get them to submerge if needed. Don’t stir – they’re super fragile and will just come apart. Repeat this process until all the dumplings are in the pool.

Keep at a bare simmer for 20-30 mins. The soup will thicken and the dumplings will cook. Check for doneness by taking one out and slicing it in half; it should be the same color all the way through. If there’s an uncooked core, just simmer them for five more minutes and check again.

Serve like any Mexican-style caldo – with lime wedges and hot pepper, some oregano or cilantro , maybe some sliced radish – so everyone can season their bowl to their taste.

If you actually have leftovers of this, they won’t last long. This little bowl of love is like a veggie stew with tamales in it. You are going to LOVE this. I promise.

updated 01.22.18 – add “room temp” to resting the masa.

Roast Butternut Soup

I know, I know. ANOTHER butternut squash recipe? I should be getting some kind of commission from the Butternut Council of America. I am so googling to see if that exists after I finish this post.

So, you know what they say. Soup: it’s what’s for dinner. Or at least, that’s what my poor, long-suffering husband says every time there’s a grey sky. Besides – Costco had two packs of these bad boys. On a cold day, this is a win/win, people.

Roasting concentrates the flavor and brings out the sweetness of the veg. Add some earthiness with the celery and the thyme, and the tartness from the apple, and this is simple goodness all around. Shall we?

Roast Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
½ large (or one small) white onion, large dice
1 small green apple, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tsp. dried thyme
1 ½ to 2 quarts chicken (or veg) stock.

Toss together everything but the stock on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast 375* for about an hour
The last twenty minutes, bring one quart of the stock to boil, then reduce to simmer to keep it hot. When the squash et al are done (fork tender, nicely caramelized), toss it all in the pot. The stock should just cover everything (add more if needed). Take a stick blender to it, puree, consume. Add more stock if you’d like a thinner soup.

Or – keep the squash in the fridge, and bring to boil and puree later when you’re ready to eat. It’ll keep in the fridge for several days (as will the soup once it’s done.) If you freeze this one, expect some water separation at the thaw. You can do it, I just wouldn’t recommend it.

I garnished mine with a little greek yogurt and some toasted walnut – butter would also be delish.

P. S. That Butternut Council of America does not exist. I must confess to being disappointed, although another smartass food blogger had the same idea back in 2013. So there’s that.