NAVAJO ZUCCHINI JALAPENO SOUP
Shinin' Times at The Fort
by Holly Arnold Kinney
Chef Juan Zepeda at the Fort recently was inspired by how the Navajo, or Dine, as they are also called, use chiles, corn, and squash. To highlight Navajo methods, he developed this masa-based soup, which rapidly became extremely popular with our guests. The masa, or cornmeal, thickens the soup and the chiles provide enough bite without being hot. The toasted pepitas add nuttiness and a wonderful sense of ancient comfort food. Chef Juan told me that in his native Mexico, soups are usually the main course and not just a first course.
serves 4 to 6
• 1 pound zucchini (2 to 3)
• 1/2 pound russet potatoes (1 to 2)
• 1/2 cup chopped yellow or white onion
• 1/2 cup diced mild green chiles
• 1 small Jalapeno chile, peeled and seeded
• 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic (1 clove)
• 3 tablespoons minced fresh shallots (1 medium)
• 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
• 1 cup fresh, frozen, or canned corn niblets
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 1/3 cup corn masa harina
• 1/3 cup cold water
• /2 cup lightly toasted hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or sunflower seeds, for garnish
• Fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish
With a vegetable brush, scrub the zucchini and potatoes under cold running water. Slice the zucchini and peel and coarsely chop the potatoes. Place the zucchini, potatoes, onion, mild chiles, Jalapeno, cilantro, garlic, and shallots in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Stir in the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover and reduce the heat to low Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until the zucchini and potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife
Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then puree in a food processor or blender. Return the pureed soup to the pot and stir in corn. Bring the soup to a boil over medium heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper
In a large measuring cup, stir together the masa harina and water. Gradualy whisk the masa mixture into the soup. Simmer, continuing to whisk until the masas is incorporated into the soup has thickened. Taste again and adjust the seasonings.
Ladle the hot soup into bowls and garnish with the toasted pepitas and cilantro.