tomatillo soup & salsa

the first few weeks of autumn are probably my favorite time of year for pacific north west produce. the end of summer tomatoes, hot peppers, stone fruits, melons and fresh greens overlap for a few weeks with the early fall apples and winter squash before things shift towards root veggies and bitter greens. it's the best of both seasons, all at once. and the stunning weather makes me love the seasonal change even more! 

i've made a routine of hitting up my neighbohood farmers market right at the opening at 3 o'clock on wednesdays... sweeping for the best produce and skipping back home with baskets of produce before the crowds and lines pile up. last week i picked up dozens of tomatillos and made big batches of salsa and soup from the same base medley of grilled tomatillos, white onions and poblanos. the soup has a few more steps but similar flavors. so if you're looking for a quick burst of flavor, i've also included the simple tomatillo salsa recipe! 

grilled tomatillo salsa verde
8 small tomatillos, purchased with skins intact
2 small white onions
1 or 2 poblano peppers
juice of 2 limes
2+ cloves raw garlic to taste
1 cup cilantro 
2 or more small yellow or green heirloom tomatoes
fresh chilis to taste
salt to taste

*tomatillos should be bright green and firm, but not rock hard. leave skins in tact until slightly ripened if too hard. when ready, remove tomatillo skins - leaving the tiny stem intact so that juices don't spill out when grilling. wash and dry tomatillos and peppers. remove skins from onions and quarter, allowing each wedge to stay intact for easy turning on the grill. 

grill tomatillos, onions and peppers over medium-high flame, without oil, until all sides are lightly charred and peppers are blistered. tomatillos will burst if they get overcooked - so be careful with flames if they burst. transfer grilled veggies to a bowl to catch any juices and let cool. 

once cool, use a sharp pairing knife to de-stem tomatillos. the juices will spill out, so work over a bowl. use the knife to scrape of the blistered skin off the peppers. discard skins and cut peppers in half and scrape out the seeds.* same first few steps for the soup recipe! 

in a food processor, pulse garlic. you could remove some chopped garlic and set it aside to add back in later if you want to be able to control the amount of spicy bite. add cilantro, chilis (if using), grilled veggies, salt and lime juice and pulse until desired chunkiness. you can add fresh chopped tomatoes to sweeten the salsa or add in more garlic and fresh chilis to make spicier. store in fridge or freeze for later! 

roasted tomatillo, black bean & zucchini stew 
8 small tomatillos, purchased with skins intact
2 small white onions
1 or 2 poblano peppers
2 large green zucchini 
3+ cloves raw garlic to taste
2+ cups broth or water
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dried mexican oregano or fresh oregano
fresh chilis or chili flakes to taste
juice of 2 limes
1 cup cilantro 
~2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed
salt to taste

optional toppings: 
extra cilantro
shaved radishes
fresh cherry or chopped tomatoes 
toasted pepita seeds
tortilla chips 
homemade baked tortilla strips 
queso fresco or cotija cheese 

follow the first 3 paragraphs of the salsa recipe above to grill vegetables. 

cut zucchini into long halves or quarters (cut lengthwise) and then into smaller bite size pieces. i like to broil the zucchini in the oven to add to the soup, but if you want to save time and mess you can just steam the zucchini in the soup. optionally: toss zucchini bites with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, a teaspoon of cumin and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika. broil zucchini on a foil-lined baking sheet in the oven, on the top rack, so that the zucchini browns slightly. toss zucchini once to brown other sides then set aside to cool. 

use a food processor to chop garlic and then transfer garlic to a large soup pot with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and big pinch of salt. saute on low heat, covered, until garlic is gently cooked. add the prepped grilled veggies into the food processor (don't worry about wiping out the residual garlic) and pulse into a salsa consistency. transfer pureed veggies into soup pot, along with additional spices, chilis if using and about 2 cups of vegetable broth or water. if using raw zucchini add before simmering soup for 10-15 minutes to combine flavors. 

you can add chopped cilantro and lime juice directly to the soup, or for a brighter colored soup - i transfer a few cups of the soup base into a blender and blend the cilantro and lime juice into the soup and add this back into the soup pot. finally, stir in black beans (or if using broiled zucchini, add now). add additional broth or water if soup is still to thick. 

serve with textured toppings and a drizzle of olive oil!