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January, 2012, Page 154
Photos by Lauren Jordan
is Spanish for “soup,” but it means a belly-warming meal in any language. Get fired up with these rich twists on traditional Latin recipes.
3815 N. Brown Ave.,
Chef-owner Matt Carter is known for his unique and often complex modern Latin American creations. So leave it to him to put a contemporary spin on savory
caldo de pollo
, too. While the recipe typically features chunky, whole pieces of chicken and entire leaves of cabbage plus halved potatoes all boiled together, Carter simmers slow-smoked chicken with ample amounts of sweet roasted corn (he names the dish Sopa De Elote, or corn soup, $12). Many
call for rice, but he uses hominy kernels that are dried, then cooked until the edges are slightly crisp. Avocado and a touch of
relish bring texture and a silky sweetness to the golden broth. If you’re craving an even heartier soup, Carter can accommodate with his sumptuous pozole, a rich stew of red chile, smoked pork, hominy and avocado, spritzed with lime and served with dunkable corn tortillas ($10). Soups, by the way, are well-known hangover helpers, so be proactive and order one of The Mission’s Mexican Painkiller cocktails – it’s a venomous mix of Milagro tequila, Bacardi rum, 360 vodka, triple sec, coconut milk and pineapple juice ($12).
Pro’s Ranch Market
3223 W. Indian School Rd.,
(plus locations Valleywide)
Pro’s Ranch Market has been around forever, first as an everyday shopper for Latin American migrants, then as an oasis for gringos who also love the upbeat strumming of mariachis (sometimes the sound system, sometimes live) and the rock-bottom prices that let you fill up on a huge bowl of soup for about $4 (with recipes spanning Old Mexico, Central and South America). We recommend the
caldo de res
(beef ) and
caldo de costilla
(rib), traditional meals treasured all across Mexico and sometimes served as breakfast. Typically, they’re no-frills but rich and beautifully seasoned beef broths with big chunks of meat, carrots, onions, zucchini, chayote, potatoes, corn on the cob and herbs. Sometimes the mix can be slightly greasy, but that little oil slick is just part of the homey joy, and helps the ingredients stick a bit better when you scoop up mouthfuls with fresh, warm tortillas. Order at the counter of la cocina, eat at a picnic table, and be sure to cool off your steaming feast with an
infused with fresh fruits and herbs.
5912 W. Glendale Ave.,
The Pompa family opened their colorful eatery in 1946, and even though Mexican restaurants abound across the Valley, La Perla is still considered one of Arizona’s finest. They serve Chihuahua-style cuisine, which is subtly spiced and relies on full-flavored meats, vegetables and cheeses, with mild to fiery sauces served on the side. The Pompa recipe for Sonoran cheese soup, or
caldo de queso
($6), stocks the piping hot, bubbling creamy broth with fat chunks of tender potatoes and medium-spiced green chile; you can scoop it with tortillas or chips, or for the best texture, both. A cold
helps cut the richness. For other soups, look to classic cocido (a stew-like soup, $7.75),
soup bobbing with juicy meatballs ($6.25), and white ($6.25) or red ($6.50) menudo, both legendary remedies for imbibing too many cervezas. If you come for your
fix on a weekend night, plan on lingering a while in the lounge for live mariachi shows.
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