This beautifully thick and velvety soup is such a striking shade of emerald-green (my photo doesn’t do it any justice at all..) that you’ll feel healthier just by looking at it! This is a very vegetarian soup that even the most carnivorous of you will enjoy – I guarantee it. How do I know this .. well I live with a very carnivorous Mexican who, when we met, claimed not to like fruits or vegetables at all – “they’re for cows”, and would not be amused if there was no meat with dinner. These days, happily, he is far more omnivorous and as long as I don’t push it with too many veggie meals in a row, I can get away with 2 or even 3 meat free days a week.
Ok, so anyone asking what the hell is a chayote? I know I did, even with all the travelling I had done until I came to Mexico to live I never saw a chayote in my life let alone tried it..well then again who knows, maybe I ate it without knowing! A member of the gourd family, the chayote is a squash and is related to melons and cucumbers. I think it tastes kind of like a cross between a potato and a cucumber. There are smooth ones and spiny ones, the spiny ones seem to be slightly less watery and more potatoey than the smooth ones. Chayote is very low in calories, has no fat or cholesterol, contains vitamins A, D and B complex vitamins, amino acids and many minerals, see this link for 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Chayote.
The chayote is probably my hubbies most hated vegetable, its between that and calabazas – courgette or zucchini to you and I. Traumatized by over-cooked, flavour-less veggies as a kid, there are quite a few that have made it to his black list, among them some of my favourites. Cooked carrots, brocoli, spinach and sweet potato to name a few, so it was a challenge I had to take on. I enjoy meat but I love vegetables, I had to get more veggies in our diet without him noticing.. soup is great for that 😛
The first time I made this soup I knew it was a big gamble, cos it was full of ingredients hubby hates AND no meat!! I had just discovered how great chayote is for you so was determined to eat more of it and I think we had been having rather a lot of BBQs prior to that, hence eating far too much meat and not enough greenery. I felt I was in need of an immune boosting and system flushing fix so came up with this recipe. I decided to substitute chayote for potato as often as possible and I think that’s how this soup came about, it is my own recipe and I have to say it was a “great success” .. imagine Borats voice .. Carnivorous Husband Loved it!
I have made this soup quite a few times now and it’s always delicious, even if the recipe does change a bit each time! In fact I have another recipe for Brocoli, Spinach and Avocado Soup that evolved from this one, I will post it at some point as it is also extremely yummy and quite different.
Note: This soup is vegetarian and very easily vegan if you omit the yoghurt, so here we go:
Spinach, Chayote and Mushroom Soup
1 Chayote Squash, peeled and cubed
1 Bunch (about 200g) Spinach, you can use chard instead
1 Med. Onion, roughly chopped
2 Sticks of Celery, washed and chopped
3+ Cloves of Garlic, roughly chopped (add more or less according to your taste)
2-3 Mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Cumin powder
1 Litre of water or stock
1-2 Vegetable or Chicken Stock Cubes (I use Knorr Suiza Caldo de Pollo, the most common stock cubes/powder in Mexico, although this obviously is not vegetarian, use vegetable stock if you want this to be veggie or vegan).
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Plain Yoghurt (optional)
Sea salt and Black Pepper to taste
Makes 2-3 large servings
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add onion and garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes.
2. Add the celery, fry another minute then add the chayote and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Add the turmeric, cumin and stock cubes/powder (if using), mix all to
gether and fry for 3-5 minutes.
3. Add the water or stock, cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down to medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Add the spinach or chard, continue to cook a further 5 minutes or until all the veggies are cooked.
5. Take off the heat and allow to cool off a little before adding the avocado and blending to desired consistency. I find a stick blender the easiest for this, but any blender or processor will do.
6. Serve hot, in bowls with a generous dollop of natural yoghurt and toasted pumpkin seeds or black pepper sprinkled on top and your favourite fresh bread.
Optional Extras.. why not try topping this with avocado chunks, croutons, cheese, toasted pine nuts, walnuts, bacon bits or chopped mint instead.