Summer Squash and Exotic Mexican Herb Soup

On our way home from Arkansas, friends loaded our car up with their unwanted giant zucchini and summer squash. We arrived home with something like 15 pounds of the stuff. So when I found some chepil in the stalls behind Canino's, I knew exactly what to do with it. I used it to make a modern variation on the ancient Zapotec squash soup called sopa de guia. The aroma of the chepil while this soup is cooking is heavenly -- it smells like rye toast.

The recipe, after the jump.

Squash-Chepil Soup

You can use tatuma, zucchini, baby cacuzza, or yellow crookneck squash in this recipe, but it's really an ideal use for those giant squash that you can't find anything else to do with. Cook the squash down first in a big spaghetti pot or pressure cooker so you can get more squash into the soup pot.

4-5 pounds of summer squash 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 small onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 serrano chile (or other pepper) 8 cups cooked squash 6 cups cooking liquid 3 cups chepil leaves (one bunch) Salt and pepper to taste Chepil leaves for garnish

Wash the squash and cut it up into chunks. Put the squash in a large pot with a quart of chicken stock. Add water to fill the pot half way up. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the squash falls apart into mush. Reserve the squash and the liquid.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and add the onion, stirring until it softens, about five minutes. Add the garlic and sauté a few minutes more. If you want the soup to be spicy, mince the whole serrano pepper. To cut down on the heat, remove the pith and seeds before mincing. For a mild soup, substitute bell pepper. Add the cooked squash and cooking liquid to the onion, garlic and pepper, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. After rinsing the chepil, remove the leaves from the stalks. Reserve a few chepil leaves for a garnish. Add the rest of the chepil to the soup and continue cooking for 20 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with chepil leaves. Serve with tostadas.

Serves 8

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