Lesley Téllez is a food writer and culinary guide. In 2010 she founded Eat Mexico, the first culinary tours in Mexico City devoted to street food, markets and fondas. Her new book Eat Mexico brings that same food to your home kitchen.
This recipe comes from her friend Eric Valle who lives in San Pedro Atocpan near Milpa Alta on the outskirts of Mexico City. He suggests serving it with a simple roast chicken for an elegant lunch, but Téllez says it’s also delicious on it’s own served with warm tortillas on the side.
You can find vibrant squash blossoms at Southern California farmers markets. Look for epazote at Mexican markets.
Sopa Milpa (Squash Flower and Vegetable Soup))
Serves 4 to 6
1 pound chicken parts, such as a chicken back and two wings
1 sprig spearmint
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 medium onion
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound round, tender young Mexican squash, cubed
1/2 pound white button or crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
1 sprig fresh epazote
2 large bunches of squash blossoms (about 10 ounces), torn into strips
12 to 16 corn tortillas
1 Place the chicken in a large saucepan. Cover with 2 quarts cold water, add the spearmint, garlic and onion and season with salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the flame,cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Strain the chicken broth and discard the bones, meat and aromatics. Set aside.
2 In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the squash, mushrooms,and corn and fry, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour inthe chicken broth, add the epazote and season with salt. Bring the soup to a boil, then
cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes.
3 Add the squash blossoms, replace the lid, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the flavors meld. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
4 To serve, heat the corn tortillas on a comal or nonstick skillet until soft and pliable and place in a basket or cloth to keep warm. Ladle the soup into bowls and pass the corn tortillas at the table.
COOKING TIPS: Most U.S. farmers’ markets sell squash flowers toward the middle to end of summer, or you can find them in some specialty markets. The way they’re sold and the size of the flowers can vary. The weight referenced here is for fairly large flowers with the
stems on. In any case, count on needing at least two dozen.
Most cooks in Mexico City tear their squash flowers by hand, instead of chopping them with a knife. I like the uneven texture that comes with tearing. To do so, break off the stem, and press on the base to gently open the flower into two pieces. Tear the petals into long strips,
keeping the base intact if possible. Some people discard the stamen (the center part of the flower), but I like it. You definitely want to keep the green base of the flower in the soup—it adds a nice, firm texture.