Nicoya Chunky Tropical Vegetable Soup
This tasty soup—almost a stew—called sopa de yuca is a savory mix of both familiar and exotic tropical vegetables. Hearty and satisfying, it’s a particularly welcome treat during cold days; it will warm you through and through. Since this recipe contains so many different types of vegetables, feel free to swap in what you have on hand.
Ayote is a hard, black squash that becomes deeply sweet and flavorful when cooked, but you can easily use butter- nut squash. Feel free to omit the yuca if you can’t find it easily, or substitute with sweet potato or white potato. Serve with brown rice or some crusty bread.
The biggest secret of the Nicoyan diet is the “three sisters”: beans, corn, and squash. Since at least 5000 b.c., Mesoamericans have cultivated these staples in milpas fields. This almost perfect agricultural system also amounts to an almost perfect food combo: rich in complex carbohydrates, protein, essential fatty acids, calcium, and niacin.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 chayote squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
2 pounds yuca, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice*
3 small yellow squash or zucchini, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
3 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
1 ayote squash**, peeled, de-seeded, and cut into ½-inch dice
4 mini sweet peppers, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
3-4 quarts of good vegetable broth
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a soup pot; add onion and garlic and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot; cover and cook on low until vegetables are soft, about 30-40 minutes.
Season with salt to taste before serving.
*You can substitute sweet potato or white potato if you cannot find yuca in the store.
**Ayote is a hard black squash that becomes deeply sweet and flavorful when cooked. You can substitute with butternut squash.
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