Sunday, February 5, 2012
Latin Corn Soup with Leeks and what is hominy, anyways?
There's lots of lovely leeks overwintered in the garden: Time to make soup! I really love this cookbook: Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health,http://www.moosewoodcooks.com/products-page/cookbooks/moosewood-restaurant-cooking-for-health/ and this recipe is from the soups section: Latin Corn Soup: 2 cups thinly sliced leeks 2 tsp olive oil 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 fresh chile, minced 2 tsp ground coriander 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano 1 tsp salt 2 cups water or veg. broth 14 cup thinly sliced radishes (yes radishes!!) 2 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes 1 cup diced red bell pepper 15 oz white hominy, drained 14 oz coconut milk 14 oz can diced tomatoes 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels 2 Tb. lime juice 2 Tb. chopped fresh cilantro avocado cubes (optional, and optimal) In a soup pot, cook the leeks for about 3 - 4 minutes until they begin to soften. Add garlic, chile, coriander, oregano, and salt and stir for one minute. Add 1 cup of broth and the radishes, sweet potatoes, and bell pepper. Cover and simmer until the vegs are tender, about 10 minutes. While the vegs simmer, puree the hominy with the remaining broth and coconut milk. When the vegs are tender, add puree with tomatoes and corn, bring back to simmer. Add lime juice and cilantro. Top with avocado cubes. If you're not veg, add some cooked chicken and heat through. I've never cooked with hominy before, and am enchanted by its smoky flavour reminiscent of freshly made corn tortillas and it's chewiness. And what is hominy, anyways? Hominy has been used by the Native Americans for a very long time and has been traced back to 1500 - 1200 BC. It is said that the process of nixtamalization originated during that period, in some parts of Mexico and Guatemala. In Spanish, hominy is called nixtamal. Nixtamalization is the Nahuatl word for the cooking and steeping of corn in alkaline water. The steeping liquor, known as nejayote, is drained off after the process is complete and the remaining corn is washed to remove a portion of its skin and excess alkali. At this point the batch of corn is known as nixtamal. Nixtamal can be ground to produce the dough known as masa –from which we make tortillas, tamales, tlacoyos, etc; or it can be left whole and boiled again to produce the puffed up boiled corn used in posole.Nixtamalization eased the workload of women charged with performing the back-breaking labor of grinding corn. Mature corn, as opposed to green and sweet corn, is deficient in available niacin. It contains plenty of bound niacin (as glycosides associated with proteins) and alkali processing releases it. European invaders did not realize this crucial fact when they appropriated corn as a staple grain. Because western milling technology was so advanced, they didn’t see the need for nixtamalization. As a result, Pellagra, a horrific disease brought on by niacin deficiency, plagued and sometimes killed poorer Europeans and Euro-Americans who consumed primarily corn. You can make your own hominy with dried corn: http://www.greensense.com/Features/Green_cuisine/nixtamal.htm Read more: http://www.cookingissues.com/2011/03/09/mesoamerican-miracle-megapost-tortillas-and-nixtamalization/