Friday, March 4, 2011

Ana Whips Up Some Tortilla Soup

Those who have only a passing familiarity with Mexican cuisine may tend to think in terms of tacos, enchiladas, burritos, refried beans, and rice. The truth is that Mexico has dozens of regional cuisines and an astonishingly varied repertoire of dishes. In particular, Mexicans love soups. Along the border with the United States, caldo (soup) is a standard item, usually beef- or chicken-based, but full of nourishing vegetables in a savory broth.

For those interested, some larger grocery stores, especially those grocery stores specializing in foreign foods, will have several Mexican varieties of Campbell's soups. Crema de lentejas (cream of lentil), crema de flor de calabaza (pumpkin squash blossom), and crema de chile poblano (cream of chile poblano) are especially worth trying, and totally unlike Campbell's American soups.

Tortilla soup is a Méndez family favorite, and can be prepared from scratch in twenty minutes. We don't intend to give you Ana's recipe here--she doesn't really have one, and they are easy to find online.

For those interested in sampling some of the delicious, lesser-known Mexican dishes, we recommend taking a look at the books of Rick Bayless. Bayless not only writes his recipes to include commonly-available ingredients, he also includes a section with each on "riffing" with the recipes, that is, modifying them to taste. A good introductory cookbook would be his Authentic Mexican 20th Anniversary Edition (Kindle edition).

I do not know if Ana Darcy Méndez knows about Mr. Bayless and his cookbooks. But it wouldn't surprise me if she does!
(See more cooking ideas and recipes in the column to the right, under the picture of cranberry apple pie a la mode.)

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