I love to garden. I love the physicality of it, I love the beauty of it, the pruning, tending and watering. I love eating fresh produce that I grew myself, and “seed to table cooking” is incredibly rewarding for me. It is also fun to find new ways to cook and preserve my garden's bounty.
Every year certain foods in the garden thrive and other foods struggle, but this year my squash did beautifully. I planted Honey Nut, (a mini version of Butternut squash), Golden Marbre, (yellow patty pan summer squash), Delicata and Yuxijiang Bing Gua (a winter squash from southern China). Since I planted four types of squash this year, I was ever present to the volume of squash flowers at my disposal. I wondered what can I do with all these squash flowers, other than stuff and fry them? A few weeks ago, I got my answer: Sopa de Guias Chochoynes!
My neighbor Kathy reached out to see if I might like some soup her daughter was going to make for her. Her daughters Emily and Katie were in town: Katie from Oaxaca and Emily from New Orleans. Katie was going to make a traditional Oaxacan soup utilizing all parts of the squash plant: the fruit, the flowers and the most tender leaves and tendrils of the zucchini plant. My neighbors Kathy and Mike are also avid gardeners, in fact Kathy and I shared the chore of germinating plants for the garden this year… truthfully Kathy did most of the work (thank you Kathy, I’ll make it up to you next year). Kathy’s garden also had a bumper crop of squash, her assortment included zucchini which is traditional for this soup. I selfishly lured them in to coming over to my cooking studio so Katie could teach me the recipe. We had a wonderful evening laughing, cooking and getting to know each other. I’ll do my best to recreate the steps to make this fabulous soup.
This is such a unique and inspiring recipe with its use of all parts of the zucchini plant.
It is also a very seasonal soup since it can only be made when squash is growing (at least in the Midwest climate) at the end of August or early September. This is also the height of fresh sweet corn season which is an important element of this dish. In its country of origin, the corn used is very different, it is more like hominy, much less sweet and much drier than sweet corn. Since we do not have access to corn like that, we substituted sweet corn, and although it isn’t traditional, it is delicious! Traditionally this soup uses chepil leaves which we do not have access to, but I understand it is similar in flavor to spinach so we used that in this recipe.
Sopa de Guias con Chochoynes
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: Approximately 10 quarts
Prep Time: 90 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
6 quarts of water
4 ears of corn, shucked and cut into thirds
4 tablespoons Ghee
1 large white onion, cut into small dice (save half for garnishing)
1 head of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/4 pounds of masa
3 tablespoons, lard, ghee or olive oil
3 zucchinis, cut in 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces
6 cups of squash leaves and tendrils, torn into bite size pieces
4 cups of squash blossoms, washed, sepals and pistil removed
4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 fresh lime
Hot sauce or chili oil
Step 1: Make the Corn Stock
Place corn into a 8-quart stock pot and cover with 6 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Remove corn from the water and set aside. Reserve corn water for soup.
Step 2: Start Soup Base
Heat a 12-quart stock pot over moderate heat. Add 4 tablespoons of ghee and sauté onion until it just starts to brown.
Add garlic and turmeric and sauté until garlic is aromatic, just a minute or two.
Add the reserved corn water and simmer while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Step 3: Make Masa Dumplings
Take 1 1/4 pounds of fresh masa dough and knead in lard, ghee or olive oil. The dough should be smooth and pliable. If the dough seems too dry, wet your hands and incorporate water until the dough is smooth and velvety.
Roll the masa dough into 1-inch round balls. Press an indentation into the dumpling for a traditional shape. Set the masa dumplings aside.
Take the additional 1/4 pound of masa dough and place in a bowl or mortar and pestle.
Pour 1 or 2 cups of warm corn stock over masa and mix until free of lumps. Pour the wet masa into the simmering stock and mix in.
*If fresh masa isn’t available in your area, you can substitute dried masa. Follow package directions to make masa dough.
Step 4: Add Vegetables
To the warm masa corn stock, gently add the zucchini and follow with the masa dumplings and let simmer for 10 minutes. Do not stir but rather let the dumplings gently and fully cook before disturbing them.
Next add the squash leaves, and squash blossoms and spinach and simmer for 5 minutes.
Lastly add the spinach, cooked corn and season with salt and pepper just until corn is heated through.
Step 5: Garnish
Sprinkle with raw diced onion, a squeeze of fresh lime and optional chili oil or hot sauce.
Although summer is officially over and fall has arrived, there is still time to enjoy the last of the summer vegetables at your local farmers markets and our grilling classes are still going strong through October, including a Fall Feast on the Patio.
If you are already in the mood for fall, come join us for Apple Fest for a slice of our famous Apple Pie and Right Bee Cider the first weekend of October in Lincoln Square or enjoy our upcoming Hands-On Pie and Tart Boot Camp this Sunday, September 25 at 10am featuring a brand new fall menu:
- Individual Maple Cream Pie
- Roasted Root Vegetable and Ricotta Galette
- Spiced Apple Hand Pies with Bourbon-Cider Glaze
- Fig Jam and Frangipane Tart with Balsamic-Poached Figs