Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel have created a unique take on food in their vegetarian cookbook, Decolonize Your Diet (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015). It boasts the same 100+ recipes as other cookbooks, the same colorful photos and delicious meals. But it also exists to give a new meaning to traditional Mexican food, as it reaches not simple outside the borders of the USA for inspiration, but into other indigenous American peoples, and back through history. These authors urge Mexican-Americans and those of Latino heritage to return to their food roots for physical health and spiritual connection. Though aimed at a culture “decolonizing” their traditional American diets, this cookbook is accessible to anyone and everyone who picks it up. From classic appetizers like guacamole to rich desserts, explore the energizing, healing properties of a plant-based, Mexican-American diet.
This flavorful, nutritious soup brings together the rich flavors of Mesoamerican cuisine: dried chiles, corn tortillas, summer squash, and fresh corn. Use this recipe as a base for your own creativity: vary vegetables or add greens, but keep the core components: crispy slivers of tortillas and a chile-tomato broth enlivened by fresh lime juice.
• 1 large white onion, peeled and quartered
• 4 large ripe red tomatoes, cored and quartered
• 4 unpeeled garlic cloves
• 2 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 2 dried guajillo chiles
• 1 dried pasilla chile
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
• 3 medium zucchinis, diced
• 2-3 ears of corn, to make 2 cups (500 mL) kernels (fresh if in season, otherwise frozen)
• 1 bunch cilantro, including stems, chopped (reserve 2 tablespoon leaves for garnish)
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For tortilla strips:
• 5 corn tortillas
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• salt, to taste, for tortillas
• 1/3 cup (80 mL) lime juice (about 5 limes)
• 6 oz (175 g) queso fresco or silken tofu, cubed
• 2 avocados, peeled, seeded, cubed
• 3 radishes, thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoon cilantro leaves
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 C).
2. Place onions, tomatoes, and unpeeled garlic in a baking dish. Toss with olive oil, oregano and salt.
3. Roast for 45 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes. Onions and tomatoes should be black around the edges.
4. Lower oven temperature to 400 F (200 C) before baking tortilla strips.
5. On a dry griddle on medium heat, toast—but do not burn—dried chiles for 1 minute on each side. Put chiles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Use a small plate to keep chiles submerged for 30 minutes.
6. Drain chiles, reserving soaking liquid. Remove stems and seeds and put chiles in blender with 1 cup (250 mL) soaking liquid. Blend until smooth.
7. Peel roasted garlic. Add garlic, onions, tomatoes, and roasting juices into blender with chile. Add 2 cups (500 mL) water, blend until smooth, then pass blended mixture through a medium sieve into a large pot.
8. Press on solids to extract as much liquid as possible, then discard. Straining makes for a thin, bright, flavorful broth. Season with salt and pepper.
9. Add 4 more cups (1 L) water to broth, and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
10. Add zucchinis, corn, cilantro, salt, and pepper and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes, or until zucchini is crisp-tender.
For tortilla strips:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C).
2. Cut tortillas in half, then crosswise into 1/4-inch (6-mm) strips.
3. Add tortilla strips to a mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while tossing strips. Sprinkle salt on tortillas and toss to combine.
4. Spread strips over a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, turning strips after 8 minutes. Set aside.
Add lime juice to soup just before serving. To serve, place 2–3 cubes queso fresco or tofu in each bowl. Ladle hot soup into bowls and garnish with a generous scoop of avocado cubes, a heap of tortilla strips, several radish slices, and some cilantro leaves.
More from Decolonize Your Diet:
Reprinted with permission from Decolonize Your Diet: Plant-Based Mexican-American Recipes for Health and Healing by Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel, published by Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015.