Caldo de Papa
Sometimes I wonder what the origins of gazpacho, the cold Spanish soup, really are. White gazpacho, made with almonds, is clearly of Moorish origin but the red one that uses tomatoes seems to have Mexican connections. Here is a hot Mexican soup that could well have been the “mother” of Spain’s red gazpacho. Instead of bread, a more local ingredient, potatoes, thickens the soup. You need chipotle chiles for this dish. Chipotles are just dried jalapeños. Jalapeños have a very thick skin that is hard to dry in the sun—a process other chiles take to quite comfortably. So jalapeños are aided by man and smoked dry to become chipotles. This accounts for their smoky flavor. They can generally be found in cans wherever Mexican ingredients are sold. If you cannot get them, use the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce that are more commonly available. For this recipe, I used one small chile to create a fairly spicy soup; you might want to start with half a chile. If you cannot get any chipotles, use part or all of a fresh hot red chile, chopping it coarsely before putting it into the blender, or ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne.
Pound boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice 3 large red-ripe tomatoes (1¼ pounds) (see Note), peeled and coarsely chopped 1 medium onion (4 ounces), coarsely chopped 1 to 2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped ½ to 1 chipotle chile, chipotle in adobo sauce, or fresh hot red chile, coarsely chopped 2 cups vegetable stock About 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste 5 tablespoons chopped fresh epazote or cilantro ¼ cup sour cream or heavy cream (optional.
Put the potatoes in a pan with water to cover by about 3 inches. Bring to a boil, cover, turn the heat to medium-low, and cook until tender but still firm.Drain. Combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chile in an electric blender and blend until you have a smooth paste. Empty into a medium saucepan. Add the stock and potatoes. Add the salt a little at a time, tasting as you go. Stir to mix and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for 7 to 8 minutes. Mash 2 or 3 pieces of potato against the sides of the pan if you want the soup a little thicker. (I like to do this.) Add the epazote or cilantro and simmer another 2 minutes. Serve with dollops of sour cream or a bit of heavy cream, if you like.
While the potatoes boil, drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds to loosen the skins. Remove with a slotted spoon, peel, and chop.