Friday, June 30, 2006

Tomatillo Soup: Tangy and Fresh

A seed catalogue first introduced us to tomatillos. We planted some in the back yard garden and ended up with an amazing crop of green and purple varieties. Beautiful to look at, wonderful to eat. The tomatillo is sometimes referred to as a husk tomato, once the husk is removed it looks like a small green tomato but has its own lemony–herbal flavour, The soup that we present here gives the tomatillo center stage. We make this soup whenever we find fresh looking tomatillos in the market. When buying make sure the husks are dry and the tomatillo firm. Tomatillos keep well and can be stored for close to a month in the refrigerator. Husk and wash the tomatillos then cook in a small amount of water over low heat in a covered sauce pan. Its flavour is revealed through cooking. You may have tasted tomatillos already in some green salsas, often called “Salsa Verde”.
Cooks note; If you are short on time left over rotisserie chicken and canned chicken stock will still make a flavourful soup. For an unusual twist, smoke a chicken on the grill and you’ll have a soup that will make you famous!

Chicken and Tomatillo Soup
  • 1- 3 pound chicken
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound fresh tomatillos, paper husk removed and washed
  • 2 ears of fresh corn
  • 1/2 roasted poblano pepper coarsely chopped *
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves

    optional garnishes
  • sour cream
  • grated Monterey Jack or Queso Fresco cheese
  • yogurt.

    Put the chicken in a pot and add enough water to cover, at least 8 cups. You want to end up with a minimum of six cups of stock (I like to have extra to use for other recipes or to add to thin the soup). Sometimes I poach the chicken in chicken stock or part chicken stock part water for a richer broth. For the bouquet garni tie a couple springs of thyme, and a small bunch of parsley together. Add 1 quartered onion, 1 carrot chopped, 1 bay leaf, 5-6 black pepper corns and 1 celery rib chopped. Place the tied herbs of the bouquet garni under the chicken to make skimming the oil from the top easier. Bring the pot to a boil then reduce to a simmer for about 1 hour or until the meat is cooked through and loose. You will be using the meat for the soup so don’t poach it too long or it will loose its flavour. When the oil comes to the top skim it off. When the chicken is done, strain the broth through a cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer. Reserve the broth. Cool the chicken and shred it into bite size chunks for the soup.

    Place the cleaned tomatillos in a saucepan in an inch or so of water and gently cook them until they are tender. Drain and run them through a food mill to remove skins and seeds. Reserve the pulp.

    Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil or butter in a stock pot large enough to hold the soup and sauté the onions until tender. Add to the onions the pureed tomatillos, chopped poblano peppers, corn kernels and chicken stock and simmer till heated through, add the shredded chicken. When the chicken is heated, season with salt and pepper, add more stock to thin soup according to your preference. Serve the soup and garnish with the cilantro and-or cheese, yogurt or sour cream.

    *Cooks note; I was fortunate to find roasted poblanos on a recent trip to Arizona. If they are not available you can roast your own. To roast the poblano peppers, Cut the pepper in half, seed and core then lay them flat on a baking sheet Place them under a broiler until they blister and turn black. When they are black put them in a covered bowl, they will continue to cook and soften. You may then remove the skins with no problem. They should not be mushy. If you have a gas stove, hold the peppers directly over the flame, rotate and roast until blistered. If poblanos are not an option use 1 or 2 raw jalapeño chiles chopped fine.

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    Brenda said...

    Good soup. I would double the tomatillos next time to make for a thicker soup. I toasted about 1 teaspoon of cumin and added it near the end of preparation--it turned out really good!

    polly + dieter said...

    brenda, we are so happy that you tried the soup! we will certainly try making it a bit thicker when we make it again–cumin sounds good too.