Calabacita Soup

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This simple and flavorful soup is a twist on a traditional New Mexican side dish. (It's also kind to your wallet, making it an ideal choice for after the holidays.) Calabacita strictly translates to 'zucchini,' however, here in New Mexico it's commonly used for a traditional sautéed dish consisting of yellow squash, zucchini, onions, corn, and optionally green chile and/or cheese.

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Calabacita Soup

(6-8 servings)

Ingredients

olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 zucchini, roughly chopped
3 yellow squash, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs frozen corn or two cans, rinsed and drained
4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 jar green chile sauce
1 box low-sodium vegetable broth or stock
salt and pepper to taste

 I didn't have enough of either frozen or canned corn so I used half of each. 

I didn't have enough of either frozen or canned corn so I used half of each. 

Method

Heat oil over medium heat in large pan or dutch oven. Add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add squash and garlic, stirring to combine. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast, stirring to combine, before adding green chile sauce and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. 

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Willow's helping...

Or judging, maybe.

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You can serve this soup as is, blend it fully for a silky smooth soup, or blend up to half for a chunky, chewy stew feel. I used an immersion blender, but you can use a blender or food processor by carefully scooping the soup into the blender and blending with the lid ajar to allow heat to escape. You'll need to do this in a couple batches if you want a velvety smooth soup with no chunks.

Note: I've made this soup several times, with slight variations each time. In the past, I've used chicken broth, condensed cheddar cheese soup, and crushed or diced tomatoes. I've used chopped fresh green chile or red chile sauce for spice. I've even added shredded chicken. Now that I'm thinking about it, using red chile with pork or ground beef would be delicious. Play with flavors and textures in your own cooking adventures.

I opted to keep this batch vegan, wanting a lighter option after celebrating Christmas three times in the past few weeks. Don't get me wrong — I could eat tamales every.damn.day. but I felt like my tummy needed a break, which led me to make this light, wholesome soup. Nutritional yeast is a plant-based source of protein with a nutty, cheesy flavor, making it a wonderful addition to vegan dishes. 


I've included my grandma's original calabacita recipe (and the base for this soup) for your consuming pleasure.

Grandma's Calabacita Recipe

2-4 zucchini squash
2 yellow squash
butter or olive oil*
2 cans whole kernel corn or 2 lbs frozen whole kernel corn
onion (if you’d like)
(Grandpa likes it with green chile and no onion.)

Dice squash into very small pieces. Put oil or butter in large pan or Dutch oven. Add squash (and onion if desired), cook over medium heat in covered pan for 10-15 minutes, stirring often. When almost done, add corn, salt, and pepper. Eat!

*To cook healthier without fat, I use the juice from canned corn to cook the squash instead of butter or oil.