In the southern hemisphere, chayotes have just come into season! On the farm, we are starting to have them coming out of our ears. Well, out of the garden to be more specific – but in such quantities that it is definitely time to make chayote soup. And more chayote soups… and maybe some chayote stir fries… and salads… you get the idea.
What Are Chayotes?
Chayotes are a fruit type vegetable which grow on a climbing vine. Chayotes, also know as Shu Shu’s and christophines, are indigenous to Mesoamerica. Commonly occurring in South American dishes, it is squash like in taste.
How are Chayotes Used?
Chayotes are commonly steamed, sauteed, and even used raw in the place of cucumber. The young ones are the most suited to raw use. Young chayotes can be used whole – skins and all. More mature fruit should be peeled, as they can start to develop small, soft spines on the skin.
What are Chayotes Like in Soup?
Chayotes make for a really great soup base. Their flavor is mild, and can carry the taste of spices and other ingredients well without overpowering the dish.
Is Chayote Soup Complicated?
No. Don’t be fooled by the exotic name. The chayote soup recipe I developed (you can hardly call it developed it so simple to make) is roughly as follows:
Steam potato and chayote pieces. Blend.
Add flavorings. Return onto stove top, add one whole chilli and raise temperature to serving heat – or until the desired amount of chilli flavor has permeated the soup. Serve.
I made this a vegan recipe, with olive oil to add the richness – but you can go crazy and add butter, cream or cheese if you are a non vegan.
Adding the Chilli
As mentioned above, once I return the soup to the heat after blending, I add a whole green chilli to the pot. This is a carribean method of flavoring pots with chilli….. And one of my favorite ways to extract the delicious umami flavor of green chillies – without bringing along too much of their burn!
The way it works is like this: as some of your are probably more than aware, the heat of chillies lies in their seeds. Phewww!!! The flavor mostly resides in the outer flesh. By inserting them whole into a dish, the heat of the simmering pot pulls forth the flavor, while the super intense burn of the chillies remains locked inside them. If anyone out there has ever put too much white or black pepper in a soup – you will know how thoroughly a soup can spread and amplify the HEAT of pepper. Which makes this strategy perfect for flavoring soup with chilli, without burning the heck out of your family/guests.
Personally I am one of those crazy people who enjoy having beads of sweat rolling down my forehead when dining. So, in order to have my guests survive and still get my chilli fix, what I do is I dish up the soup (mildly flavored with green chilli) and then I offer (to general dissent) extra chilli. Once that formality is over with, I dish the green chilli up into my bowl, and play cat and mouse with it throughout my meal.
So, what I mean is that you can basically scale the level of spiciness up and down with this dish. What the caribbean people do, is they dish up the whole chilli onto a side plate. This is then passed around, and anyone who likes go bright red at table and take sucking breaths, is able to take extra chilli.
So, now that the important chilli ramble is over, I present you with…
Creamy Chayote Soup!
Creamy Chayote SoupPrint This
- 2 large potatoes
- 2 large chayotes
- 1 green chilli
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4-6 cups water
- 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander seed powder
- 3 1/2 + teaspoons of salt
- Black pepper
- 3 + tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Chop up the chayote and potato.
- Combine the potato and 5 cups of water in a medium to large sized pot.
- Cook until the potato is almost tender. Add the Chayote pieces.
- Continue to cook until all is tender
- Remove from the flame and blend. I use a stick blender, but a regular blender or food processor will do also get the job done.
- Add any further water if you wish the soup to be less thick.
- Return to the flame and add all other flavorings.
- Lastly place the whole chilli in the center of the pot.
- Simmer until the pot has reached serving temperature, or until the desired amount of chilli flavor / heat has spread through the pot.
If your chayotes are young you can probably cook them with their skin. However if the chayotes are more mature, they might have developed tiny spines on their skin. If this is the case, it is best to peel them. If you feel that the soup is lacking zing, add a little extra apple cider vinegar for more contrast in the flavor profile. But go slowly! White wine can also be substituted in place of the vinegar if desired.
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