A while back I purchased a giant cookbook, called Gran Cocina Latina, or The Food of Latin America, by Maricel E. Presilla. It took me days to get through it, as it “provides encyclopedic knowledge of everything necessary to master and enjoy the full richness of Latin American cuisine.”
When I made Feijoada a while back, I realized I didn’t have much familiarity with South American cuisine, and so this was one of the three books I bought that would help me learn more. Here are the three new books I now own:
I love the way this book is organized. It’s got the expected chapters on meat, poultry, fish and seafood, and so forth. But there is a chapter on Cebiches, the Tamal Family, Empanadas, Tropical Roots, and others. It really helps to learn the various ingredients this way – many of which I’ll never be able to find, unfortunately.
I’m not sure why I decided on Locro de Quito for the first recipe I made out of this book. Somehow it just jumped out at me, even though I bookmarked about 50 recipes.
Quito’s Potato and Cheese Soup, as it’s translated, is from Andean Equador. Of course, the potatoes I used, as well as the cheese, are probably very different than what’s traditional, but I still wanted to make it. I will type up the recipe as it is, then make my comments afterwards.
Locro de Quito
2 teaspoons achiote-infused corn oil, see achiote oil
1 tablespoon salted butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 quarts water
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (5 large), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 ounces crumbled French feta cheese, a soft, crumbly Ecuadorian cheese (such as San Fernando Queso Fresco from Azuay), or Monterey Jack cheese
4 scallions, white and pale green parts, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
Heat the oil and butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until barely golden, about 40 seconds. Add the onion, cumin, salt, and pepper and sauté until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.
Add the water and potatoes and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are half-cooked, about 10 minutes.
Add the milk and cook for 5 more minutes.
Add the crumbled cheese and cook for 5 more minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Ladle into bowls and serve piping hot.
The author forgot what to say what to do with the scallions, but I assume they are for sprinkling over the top of the soup.
Verdict: This soup was not as good as I was hoping. First of all, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin is practically nothing. And, 4 ounces of goat cheese for a whole pot of soup? That’s potato soup with a little cheese and hardly any flavor. I topped each bowl of soup with about 1 ounce of cheese, some chopped green onions, and a few drops of achiote oil. Then it was passable. Of course my husband suggested bacon. I reminded him I was making a traditional recipe, but he was right. I’m going to be adding Polish sausage to the rest of the soup.