Sweet Corn Soup

Sopa de Elote

Serves 6



In the great pre-Hispanic corn cultures of the Americas, the appearance of the season's first tender ears of corn was greeted with rejoicing and thanksgiving ceremonies. The young corn was roasted in the husk and eaten off the cob or made into delicate fresh corn tamales, a naturally sweet-tasting fresh atole, or a soup. Sopa de Elote, traditionally made in Puebla at this time of year, combines the young corn with onions, chiles, and tomatoes. Though it is best made with freshly picked corn, frozen corn kernels also make a good soup.

3 tablespoons butter or corn oil
1/2 cup chopped white onion
2 fresh poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeds and ribs removed,
     cut into thin strips
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
6 cups fresh corn kernels (8 to 9 ears), or one 16-ounce package
     frozen corn kernels
1 large ripe tomato, or 4 ripe plum tomatoes, diced
6 cups chicken broth
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
4 to 6 corn tortillas, cut into small strips
1 cup crumbled queso fresco, or crumbled feta, or 1 cup sour cream

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until slightly softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chile strips, garlic, and 2 cups of the corn kernels. Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a blender or food processor purée the 4 remaining cups of corn kernels together with the tomato and 1-1/2 cups of the chicken broth. Press the purée through a coarse-mesh sieve into the saucepan.

Add the remaining 4-1/2 cups chicken broth, half of the cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a boll, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the flavors are well blended.

Meanwhile, pour the oil to a depth of 1 inch in a skillet and heat. Fry the tortilla strips until they are crisp and golden, about 1 minute. Remove them with a slotted spoon and set them aside. Drain them on crumpled paper towels.

Ladle the soup into individual bowls and top each serving with the cheese, tortilla strips, and cilantro.


Buy the Book!


Spirit of the Earth
Native American Cooking from Latin America

by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs
Introduction by Carolyn Margolis
Cultural Essays by Michael D. Coe and Jack Weatherford
Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang
November 2001, Hardcover, $40
ISBN: 1-58479-024-5
Recipe reprinted by permission.


Spirit of the Earth



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