Chayote Squash and Tomatillo Gazpacho
Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
servings (9 to 10 cups total)
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 35 minutes
Pale green and mild, this soup is a delight in contrasts. It is silky and smooth, yet the garnishes are crisp and crunchy and provide a punch of flavor. Tomatillos are mildly tart and no, they aren’t green tomato—they are a giant gooseberry. That tart underpinning contrasts with the super-mild chayote, a very underrated squash, which happily is now increasingly available at grocery stores. Honestly, this gazpacho recipe is seriously easy and seriously good.
3 chayote squash, unpeeled, pit removed (see Kitchen Tips) and cut into 6 pieces
10 small tomatillos, papery husks removed, cored at the stem end, and cut in half
3 shallots, peeled
4 garlic cloves, cut in half, any green germ discarded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 quarts low sodium, mild vegetable stock (see Kitchen Tips)
1 container (8 ounces) crème fraîche, Mexican crema or sour cream (see Kitchen Tips)
¼ cup shredded baby spinach
1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
6 celery stalks, including leaves, minced
6 mild small radishes, minced, optional
- Place the chayote squash pieces, halved tomatillos, shallots, garlic, salt, chili powder, and vegetable stock in a medium saucepot over high heat. Bring to a strong boil and then lower to a simmer, and cook, uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the tomatillos are very soft and the chayote is soft when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife (the skin will feel different than the flesh, but it will feel soft and you can scrape it easily if you try).
- Remove from the heat and, using an immersion blender, puree until completely smooth. This can also be done in a blender or food processor with ease. Pour the completely smooth mixture into a container, cover, and refrigerate until completely chilled. This can be done up to a day in advance.
- Before serving stir in the crème fraîche, crema, or sour cream. Add any or all of the garnishes, stir well, and serve immediately.
- Chayote, also known as mirliton (especially in New Orleans) is a mint green squash of delicate flavor and creamy texture. It has a large flat pit in the center, similar to a mango. To prep it, cut downward on both sides of the pit. The pit is not as hard as a stone-fruit pit and you can quite easily cut through it—but you should then go back with a tiny, sharp paring knife and cut it out.
- This soup is designed for the sweet and slightly tart balance of crème fraîche or Mexican crema. Sour cream is a good substitute. You can use any lower-fat versions of those if you like. Sorry, but yogurt, Greek yogurt, goat’s milk yogurt, soy yogurt or any nut-based yogurt will absolutely not work. They will curdle and/or mar the flavors considerably.
- For this recipe, the vegetable stock should be as delicate as possible. It should not be tomato based (check the ingredient list on the pacakge), roasted, or super-strong tasting. If you only have strong stock on hand, use 1 cup of stock and 3 cups water. In a pinch, you could use 1 cup of a top quality all natural-butternut squash puree and 3 cups of water. It will make quite a different soup, but it will still be tasty.