The diced avocado piled in a pale green mound atop the steaming bowl of soup won me over immediately. It was an “I should have thought of that” moment I experienced years ago in a restaurant in Quito, Ecuador. I regularly top chili with avocado, why not soup?
This observation was just the beginning of the enchantment as I dove into the creamy, golden potato and cheese soup, locro de papa, which is a staple of Ecuadorian cuisine. It’s a rich and hearty belly warmer that’s simple to prepare and can easily serve as a main dish. I imagined this version so that I could integrate it into my usual range of soups.
A key ingredient in the classic recipe is achiote – also called annatto – a mild-tasting ruby red spice, which imparts a gorgeous orange-red color to dishes. It’s common in dishes all over Latin America, so I was able to purchase it at a Mexican market near me, and it’s also sold online. But if you don’t have achiote, you can substitute it with a combination of sweet paprika and turmeric, which together add a similar hue and gentle earthy flavor. Add the spices, garlic and ground cumin to the onion softened in a little oil, then add the potatoes and stock or water and simmer until the potatoes are tender . The color and creamy texture of Yukon Gold works particularly well here, but Russets would also work.
After removing a few potatoes from the pan and chopping them to add back later for a nice textural contrast, the rest is pureed to a thick, golden creaminess. Then milk and shredded Monterey Jack cheese are added, adding a tempting richness and enough protein to make it a main dish.
Served topped with more cheese and a burst of fresh greens from sliced green onions, cilantro, and – yes – that buttery diced avocado, this is an unforgettable soup to warm and fill you up throughout of the season.
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Ecuadorian-style potato soup
This golden, creamy potato and cheese soup is a take on locro de papa, a staple of Ecuadorian cuisine. Its stunning hue comes from achiote – also called annatto – a ruby red spice with a mild taste, which gives an orange-red color to dishes. With an enticing richness of milk and Monterey Jack cheese, and topped with a burst of fresh greens from scallions, cilantro, and avocado, this is an unforgettable soup—that can easily be a main dish—that you you will surely want in your usual soup. rotation of the seasons.
6 servings (makes about 9 cups)
Activity time: 40 minutes; Total duration: 1 hour
For the soup
2 tablespoons of avocado oil or other neutral oil
1 large yellow onion (12 ounces), diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped or finely grated
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon annatto (annatto; can substitute 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika plus 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric)
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
1/2 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste
1 cup low-fat milk
1 cup (3 ounces) coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 small ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/3 cup (1 ounce) coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese
hot sauce (optional)
Prepare the soup: In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, cumin, and achiote and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Add chicken stock or water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from fire.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 1 cup of potatoes to a cutting board and cut into small pieces.
Use an immersion blender to blend the soup in the pot until smooth. (You can also let the soup cool, then puree it in batches in a regular blender.) Return the soup to medium-low heat and reheat. Stir in milk and cheese until cheese is melted. Return the chopped potato to the pan and mix. Taste and season with additional salt if desired.
To serve: Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with avocados, cilantro, green onions, cheese and hot sauce, if using, and serve.
Food | (1-1/2 cup): 347 calories, 39 g carbohydrates, 19 mg cholesterol, 18 g fat, 8 g fiber, 11 g protein, 6 g saturated fat, 366 mg sodium, 7 g of sugar
From cookbook author and registered dietitian nutritionist Ellie Krieger.