Locro Ecuatoriano

Potato Soup with Avocado and Corn
From The South American Table by Maria Baez Kijac.

Serves 4. See directions for garnishes and aji criollo below.

The soup

In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, heat over medium-low heat until melted:

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Stir in and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes:

  • 1/2 tsp ground annatto or sweet paprika
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped scallions (white part and 1 inch of the green)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Add and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes, without browning:

  • 1 1/2 lbs Idaho, Yukon gold, or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and sliced crosswise 1 1/2 inches thick

Add and bring to a boil:

  • 3 cups hot water, or more if needed (I usually substitute chicken broth)

Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes begin to fall apart, about 30 minutes. With a wooden spoon, stir the potatoes so that some do fall apart and press a few against the side of the saucepan, mashing them a little. This will thicken the soup.

Add and then bring back to a boil:

  • 1 cup milk, or more if needed (I use 2%)
  • 4 sprigs fresh cilantro (to be removed later)

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add, and then simmer for 5 minutes without stirring:

  • 1 large egg white (I usually leave this out)

Add and stir unti melted:

  • 2 ounces Chihuahua, mozzarella, or Muenster cheese, shredded, or imported feta cheese, crumbled (I use crumbly mozzarella or Cotija cheese, probably more than 2 ounces...)

If the soup is too thick, add more milk or water to achieve the desired consistency. Discard the cilantro. Just before serving, stir in and heat thoroughly:

  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten with (I usually leave this out)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream (I usually leave this out)

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Garnishes and Serving Instructions (the avocados and salsa are the keys)

Whisk together in a small bowl:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • A pinch of salt

Combine in a medium-sized bowl:

  • 4 romaine lettuce leaves, shredded
  • 1 large ripe but firm Haas avocado, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Toss with the dressing until lightly coated.

Also have on hand:

  • 1 cup cooked corn kernels, drained
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • Aji criollo (see below)

To serve: ladle the soup into bowls, adding to each bowl 1/4 cup of the corn. Mound about 1/4 cup of the salad in the center of the soup and top with some of the chopped eggs. Serve with a bowl of aji on the side.

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Aji Criollo (creole hot pepper salsa)

Makes about 3/4 cup

Place in a blender and process until smooth:

  • 4 hot red or green finger peppers, 3-4 inches long, seeded and chopped (or leave the seeds in for an even hotter salsa)
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Transfer to a small bowl. Add and mix well:

  • 1/4 cup minced scallions (white part only)
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro or parsley leaves
  • 4 Tbsp water

It is best to use this salsa the same day it is made.

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