MENESTRA OR SOPA DE VERDURAS : Market Vegetable Soup
Several times each week, mobile street markets called tianguis bring beautiful seasonal vegetables (and just about everything else) to Mexican neighborhoods. Inspired by those markets, this simple soup is easy to put together using any vegetables you have on hand —or you can choose whatever catches your fancy at the farmers’ market. Bring out all the flavor with a final garnish of fried corn tortillas, crumbled guajillo chiles, and cotija cheese.
SERVES 4 to 6
1 poblano chile, roasted, seeded, and diced
½ cup dried garbanzo beans
1 small leek, trimmed of dark green leaves, cleaned, quartered, and sliced
1 small white onion, diced
½ small carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup fresh corn kernels
2 cups finely diced mixed seasonal vegetables, such as zucchini, green beans, red bell pepper, yams, green cabbage, green beans, white mushrooms, peas, or kale
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice, or 3 ripe tomatoes, diced
2 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
8 cups water, or more as needed
2 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 corn tortillas
2 ounces crumbled cotija cheese (optional)
Combine all the soup ingredients in a 5-quart slow cooker, cover, and cook on low for 7 hours, checking occasionally and adding more water if needed. Taste and adjust theseasoning.
While the soup cooks, make the garnishes. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chiles and toast on both sides, turning occasionally and pressing down with a spatula, until dry and quite dark, but not burned. Remove from the pan. When the chiles are cool enough to handle, crumble into small pieces.
In the same skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Cut the tortillas into ½-inch squares and fry until crisp. Drain on a paper towel.
Serve the soup very hot, garnished with some of the fried tortilla squares, a sprinkle of crumbled chiles, and some cotija cheese, if desired.