Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Huh? Rusty potato soup?

The weather people are promising a warm up this weekend (30 degrees again! woo!), but until then it is still very cold outside and suppose to drop to -17 tonight. Perfect night to cozy up with a steaming bowl of this Ecuadorian Potato Soup we had for dinner this evening!

This soup has an intriguing combination of flavors and a special ingredient that slowly bleeds into the liquid creating a rusty color. What is it? Annatto! Besides dying the soup, the ground seed lends a uniquely earthy flavor with a slight peppery note. Annatto can also be found in variety of cheeses and butter as a coloring agent.

Once some onions are sautéed and the annatto, along with cumin, are added to briefly toast, thick chunks of a few starchy russet potatoes are added to the pot. Milk, cilantro and a few pieces of chopped jalapeño are also added and allowed to simmer until the potatoes are tender. So the soup retains some texture, the potatoes are partially mashed with a potato masher, rather than pureeing the soup - if you prefer a silky soup though, I don't see why you couldn't stick an immersion blender into the pot and whirl away. To add some body, the soup is thickened slightly by tempering a lone egg yolk with a bit of the hot liquid and then whisking it back in and allowing the mixture to simmer for a few minutes.

While some chopped cilantro and jalapeño were natural additions to sprinkle on top, I would have never guessed what comes next. While I thought the ingredient was a little odd at first, Jeff and I both were pleasently surprised! The recipe calls for a few chopped hard-cooked eggs as one of the finishing touches - the firmer texture seemed to play well and the bit of richness from the yolks was a nice contrast to the light soup. I'm sure it would have been even better if we didn't have to miss out on one of the last toppings for the soup. It called for some creamy chopped avocado, but when I was at the market this morning to pick up a few other ingredients they had not gotten their shipment today or for the last few days either - next time!


  1. I've seen the recipe in Cooking Light but I have no clue where to find annatto. I was wondering if I could replace it with something else.

  2. I ditto Helene. I don't think I've ever seen annatto. Does Penzey's carry it? This does look very interesting if the mystery ingredient could be tracked down!

  3. This is definitely one I am going to try.
    Annatto is a bit hard to come by where I live as well.
    I use a pinch of turmeric or saffron instead.

    Thanks for the recipe, Joe.
    Eric, Netherlands

  4. Very interesting Joe! I love the idea of the hard-cooked eggs.

    For those looking for Annato, carries annato seeds (also called achiote) for a really reasonable price.

    I don't believe the weather guys myself. I think if it even got to 10 I would consider that a warm up.

  5. Penzey's does carry annatto seeds! I believe some Latin American or Mexican markets carry them, as well. Another great way to use the seeds is to steep them in oil - it creates a gorgeous, bright orangey red oil that you can drizzle into soups for a great effect.

  6. Looks delightfully different with those eggs on top. I could use a bowl of hot soup right now. It's chilly and windy and rainy today!


  7. This soup does intrigue me. I have never tasted anything with annatto but willing to seek it out & give your recipe a try! Love all these soup recipes different blogs have had during National Soup Month!

  8. Helene and Michelle - Yes, Penzey's has it as that is where I picked it up!

    Eric - Good call on the subs!

    Erika - They are calling for 40 on Monday! Woo!

    Autumn - Thanks for the tip, especially now that I have the seeds on hand!

    Lori - We are finally "warming" up today... into the 20s, so soup is still a good option to warm up here too!

    JEP - Do give it a try!