Mexican pumpkin flower soup. Squash flowers such as pumpkin and courgette are found in many recipes across South America. They are delicious, particularly when lightly cooked. In Spain, France, and Italy they crop up in all sorts of recipes. It was fascinating to see them so frequently used around Mexico on all kinds of street stalls and in little cafes, where they would have been appearing in similar recipes for hundreds of years. This fresh summer soup with many of the exciting characteristics of Mexican street food is spiked with a tantalizing edge of green chili and lime juice.
Recipe courtesy of "Street Food: Exploring the World's Most Authentic Tastes" by Tom Kime, copyright 2007. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley Limited. All rights reserved.
|3 1/2 cups good-quality chicken stock||2 ripe tomatoes|
|a little olive oil||8 oz (225 g) pumpkin flowers or zucchini flowers|
|2 fresh green jalapeno or serrano chilies, seeded and finely chopped||juice of 2 limes|
|2 garlic cloves, finely chopped||salt and freshly ground black pepper|
|1 onion, finely chopped|
Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan. Meanwhile, heat a large heavy frying pan and add a little olive oil. Reserve some of the chilies to garnish the soup, and cook the remainder in the hot oil with the garlic for 1–2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until pale golden brown.
Cut the tomatoes in half, and grate the open side of each half on a large grater. (This is a quick method of getting the pulp from the tomatoes; the skin stays in your hand and can then be discarded.) Add the tomato to the pan with the onion. Discard the stems from the pumpkin flowers and coarsely chop the flowers, reserving 6 whole flowers for garnish. When the tomato has cooked down slightly, add the chopped pumpkin flowers to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes until the flowers are barely wilted. Pour in the hot chicken stock, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, heat a small frying pan and add a little olive oil. Cook the reserved whole pumpkin flowers until they are wilted and parts are golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, and add the reserved green chilies. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Using a blender or food processor and working in batches as needed, process the soup until smooth; return it to the pan. Add the lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning—there should be a balance between the sweet onion, chicken stock, spicy green chilies, and salt. The lime juice wakes up the flavors and provides a delicious sour edge to this simple soup. To serve, pour into bowls and garnish each with a whole pumpkin flower and some green chilies.
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