Surprise Tomatillo Soup

(The surprise is that it’s actually good).

I’ll be honest: I was a bit disappointed with the tomatillo at first. It was like getting a Christmas gift from Aunt Hettie back when I was a kid. It arrived, wrapped enticingly in glittery paper and tied with a big bow that promised all sorts of wonders within, and then you opened it to discover… socks and underwear.

That’s kind of what tomatillos are like. They come to you in a special little gift bag, but when you open it, you find this under-ripe looking tomatoey thing that you can’t even enjoy raw. Even when cooked, its uses are limited. Most people use them for salsa, but I just don’t need that much dip for my tortilla chips. So I decided to try and make a soup. And you know what? Gabe thinks it’s even better than my carrot, turnip and potato soup. I used a slow cooker, but this recipe could easily be adapted to stovetop saucepan cooking. Here’s how it goes:


  • 1 cup shredded chicken meat (cooked- great use for leftovers)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 pounds tomatillos, pureed
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • corn cut from 2 cobs (great use for leftover cooked but uneaten corn)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon chille flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (or to taste)
  • cumin, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • a dollop sour cream or goats’ cheese per serving (optional)
  • Directions:
  1. Saute onions and garlic in oil until tender.
  2. Place the sauteed onions and garlic, tomatillos, broth, chicken, corn, black beans and spices to the slow cooker and heat for several hours (I did mine for 6 hours total).  
  3. Depending on the specific instructions for the rice you’re using, add rice approximately 30 minutes before estimated finish time. At this point, you can also sample the soup and add more of the listed spices to taste.
  4. When ready to serve, ladle into bowls. Put a dollop of sour cream/goats’ cheese on top of each portion, let it melt a bit and then sprinkle generously with cilantro.

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