The plan for dinner started out simple enough. Whip up a big batch of mote pillo and sauté some chard on the side. At the last minute, I decided to mix things up a bit. After all, it wouldn’t be an Ecuadorian meal without soup! It never ceased to amaze me how my host mother would whip up a delicious soup everyday with little more than a few potatoes, water, a scoop of achiote, a dash of milk, a sprinkle of cumin and cilantro, and, of course, copious amounts of salt. Inspired by a recipe from Bon Apétit (which I would love to try sometime when I have the ingredients), I miraculously ended up with a charming and pretty decent tasting soup! The yogurt stirred in makes all the difference. Admittedly, the texture was a bit odd. It probably didn’t help that I blended the stems into the soup, but even at other moments when I’ve removed the stems, I’ve noticed that chard seems to remain a bit coarse and stringy when blended. Spinach would work better in this respect.
Crema de Acelgas
1 bunch chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped
1 large spring onion
A few sprinkles coriander, cumin, and nutmeg
Salt and pepper
A few splashes of milk (optional)
A few sprigs of fresh herbs (I used dill)
Sauté onion and chard stems in oil for several minutes until soft. Then stir in leaves until wilted. Blend in batches with water until desired consistency. Return to pot, season to taste and simmer. Stir in a few splashes of milk or a little yogurt if desired. Just before serving, ladle into bowls, place a few dollops of yogurt into the center of each bowl, and garnish with sprigs of herbs on top.