Sunday, March 3, 2013

Locro de Papa and aji criollo

Almost every meal in Ecuador starts with sopa (soup) and it is often some version of locro de papa, (potato soup).  This soup is not dissimilar to the french leek and potato soup, but with the addition of cheese and avocado. Saturday night we were having a reunion party with some of the participants of our epic to adventure to Ecuador last fall, and I offered to cook an Ecuadorian dinner. Obviously it had to start with this soup

It is simple and easy to make, but does require a good chicken stock. Fortunately in the process of making one of the other dishes I had a large amount of very flavourful chicken stock.  I suspect like all traditional ubiquitous dishes there are as many recipes as there are families making it, so I combined several making it the way that I liked it best. I made enough for 20, but it would be very easy to cut down the quantities to a make more reasonable amount of soup, so I will give the measurements for  6 servings.

1 large onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 pounds of yellow potatoes peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
5 cups of chicken stock
1 avocado sliced
Crumbled queso fresco cheese, or a mild feta would work as well.

Place the oil in a large pot and add the onion and garlic, cook slowly over low heat until the onions are translucent. Then add one cup of the stock.

Pour this into a blender or food processor.  Blend until the onion is pureed and add back to the pot.

Add the potatoes and the remainder of the stock to the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are starting to fall apart. Check for seasoning and mash the potatoes with a potato masher until you get the desired consistency, I like some left in pieces.

Before serving place the avocado and the queso fresco in the bottom of the bowl.  If you can not find queso fresco then it is easy to make or a mild Macedonian feta would work as well.

Pour the hot soup on top, or you could fill the bowls and then place the avocado and cheese on top.  Garnish with a little cilantro and you are good to go.

Pop corn was always served in little bowls on the table and this can also be added as a little crunch on top.

Another thing that was always served with a meal was aji criollo (hot sauce) so obvoisly I had to make some of that as well.  After a little research on the internet this is what I came up with.

4 ajies or hot peppers
½ bunch of cilantro (stems and leaves)
½ cup of water
3 garlic cloves
Juice from 1lime or lemon
I small white onion chopped

Place everything in a blender or food processor and process.

I also made a batch with the same ingredients but added 4 tomatoes as well.

These hot sauces were great to add to soup, or anything else as well as served with corn chips.

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