I was so happy to see potatoes bountiful at the market again. I know you can get them year around almost anyplace, but this is part of the joy of eating local food in season: you look forward to things like potatoes! Planted in January in the dead of cold, potato plants are lovely, deep green, bushy things in the garden. Their tubers are like buried treasure in the early spring - new potatoes for potato salad, and now full-blown potatoes ready for soup.
We used market squash, onions, and green beans as well as cilantro from a friend to make this practically-local soup. It was so delicious, it took me by surprise. Something about it is just right for the hot weather we're having. Folks down at the cafe seem to be liking it too.
Spunky Oaxacan Squash and Potato Soup
2 cups onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 - 1 teaspoon ground chipotle peppers (found at Ward's - delicious)
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups diced potatoes
2 cups chopped squash
2 cup chopped green beans
2 large cans tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
enough water to make soup
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil till tender. Add coriander, cumin, and chipotle pepper, and stir around a bit. Add a little water to keep from burning while you thow in the green beans and potatotes. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer till potatoes and beans are tender. Add tomatoes and squash, bring to a boil and cook just a few minutes till squash are tender. Add kidney beans and enough water to create adequate amount of soup broth (thick or thin, up to you). Salt to taste, bring to boil, then turn heat off and serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro if desired.
Potatoes, we are glad you have returned to us!
Ode to the Potato
"They eat a lot of French fries here," my mother
announces after a week in Paris, and she's right,
not only about les pommes frites but the celestial tuber
in all its forms: rotie, purée, not to mention
au gratin or boiled and oiled in la salade niçoise.
Batata edulis discovered by gold-mad conquistadors
in the West Indies, and only a 100 years later
in The Merry Wives of Windsor Falstaff cries,
"Let the skie raine Potatoes," for what would we be
without you—lost in a sea of fried turnips,
mashed beets, roasted parsnips? Mi corazón, mon coeur,
my core is not the heart but the stomach, tuber
of the body, its hollow stem the throat and esophagus,
leafing out to the nose and eyes and mouth. Hail
the conquering spud, all its names marvelous: Solanum
tuberosum, Igname, Caribe, Russian Banana, Yukon Gold.
When you turned black, Ireland mourned. O Mr. Potato Head,
how many deals can a man make before he stops being
small potatoes? How many men can a woman drop
like a hot potato? Eat it cooked or raw like an apple
with salt of the earth, apple of the earth, pomme de terre.
Tuber, tuber burning bright in a kingdom without light,
deep within the earth where the Incan potato gods rule,
forging their golden orbs for the world's ravening gorge.
"Ode to the Potato" by Barbara Hamby, from Babel. © University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004.