Soup Night

by | Aug 1, 2008

Our house has a tradition of having our friends over for soup one night a month. After running over three years, Soup Night is now pretty legendary and tales of it can be heard across the land. Despite the notable absence of all the original Soup Night founders, last night was no exception.

Soup is a fabulous way to entertain guests since soup recipes are easily scaled to accommodate a large audience and pots of soup stay warm all night, removing the necessity of setting strict dinner times. Generally soup is also very healthy–especially the brothy kind–and is an excellent tool for weight loss. Friends bring drinks and bread, and a party is born.

This month the featured soups were Wild Mushroom (veg) and Chicken Enchilada Tomatillo. Both were delicious and very popular with the guests. My creation was the Enchilada soup and though the recipe seemed simple, it was a lot more work than I anticipated. While I had no trouble finding a large 5-lb chicken at Whole Foods, I realized yesterday that I had forgotten to ask the butcher to quarter it for me. I had never done this myself and it was a bit of an adventure. At this point I still wouldn’t say that I am comfortable demolishing an entire raw chicken.

I have also never worked with tomatillos in the past. If you aren’t sure you know what these are, think of green Mexican salsa, chile verde and, of course, green enchilada sauce. I had no idea how to pick good tomatillos, so I just went with my gut and chose brightly colored, blemish-free fruits. This seemed to work out nicely. The recipe called to remove the husks and chop coarsely, which was easy enough. Raw the tomatillos had a refreshing flavor, somewhere between a tomato, celery and cilantro. Slightly more acidic and less sweet than regular tomatoes, I could instantly see how they are the perfect match to chicken.

After simmering with onions, garlic and chilies (okay, it was a little more complicated than that), I pureed the tomatillos and added the shredded chicken. I put out queso fresco (fresh Mexican cheese), pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) and Mexican crema (sour cream) as garnishes. This was the least healthy part of the dish, but as garnishes they can’t do much damage. A generous housemate prepared jalapeno cornbread, an ideal pairing.

Thanks to all who participated, see you next month!

*Special thanks to Adam Gazzaley for the photo-documentation.
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