Today is Cinco de Mayo – a day to commemorate the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of the Puebla in 1862. Much like the American Fourth of July, or the Irish St. Patrick’s Day, May 5 has come to be associated with, and celebrated as, a day of national pride.
You don’t have to be Mexican to take part in the festivities of the day, including eating wonderful Mexican food. In fact, there isn’t a better day to eat Mexican food than today. Central Jersey Mexican restaurants are anticipating an increase in clientele and have added special foods and drinks to their menus, and they will be open extra hours.
If you would prefer to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with dinner at home, this easy Red Bell Pepper and Potato Soup is a nice appetizer or first course. Or, if you would like to make a meal of it, the texture of the potatoes makes the soup hearty enough to enjoy this way as well. Just keep in mind that it needs to be cooled slightly and pureed in a blender or food processor, so allow a minimum of 30-40 minutes from start to finish. This recipe serves four.
Red Bell Pepper and Potato Soup for Cinco de Mayo
3 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 potatoes, peeled, cut in eighths, and boiled until soft, but not mushy
1 large red pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons of jarred minced garlic (or two cloves of fresh garlic, minced)
4 cups Swanson Mexican tortilla-infused broth. If this isn’t available, chicken or beef stock may be substituted
½ cup low-fat sour cream
2 cups shredded low-fat Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 can (4 oz.) chopped chilies
Salt and pepper, to taste
Tortilla strips, optional, for garnish
1. Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until soft, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the pepper and garlic; sauté for another 4 minutes.
3. Add the broth and potatoes. Increase heat until soup begins to boil, then lower and let simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Let soup cool enough just so it can be easily pureed in a blender or food processor. When cooled, add the chilies and cumin to the pot.
5. Puree in batches, transferring each pureed batch into a clean sauce pan.
6. Once all the soup has been pureed and transferred, add milk and sour cream and return to a low heat, stirring until both have been incorporated.
7. Add cheese a little at a time, making sure each addition fully melts before adding the next.
8. Once all the cheese has been added, taste for salt and pepper, top with garnish and serve.
This soup is so tasty, you’ll not only want to eat it on Cinco de Mayo, but all year long.