Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tomatillo Corn Chowder

Too pretty to eat?  That didn't stop us.  And not just easy on the eyes, tomatillos are easy to grow in the hot, humid weather we enjoy (that enjoy part was said with just a bit of saracasm).  Sometimes referred to as Mexican tomato or husk tomato, the tomatillo is a tomato relative.  Both are members of the nightshade family which also includes eggplants, potatoes and peppers (and some highly toxic, poisonous stuff we'll leave for another time).  Tomatillos develop slowly while encased inside a big, round, papery cocoon.  It looks odd enough to fascinate the kids, and they also enjoy palpating the cocoon every few days to feel the fruit inside growing.  Starting out no bigger than a pea, the tomatillo gradually grows to fill the husk with a fruit that is firm, heavy and dense.  They have a great shelf life once harvested (two weeks or more in the refrigerator), and they are also beautiful.  Ours are a gorgeous glossy green the color of Granny Smith apples. 

We started tomatillo seeds back in May, and totally ignored them as soon as the seedlings were in the ground.  Luckily, these plants don't need a lot of attention and they love the heat.  They have become enmeshed with our White Dixie baby butter bean vines in a sprawling mess in the back yard, but it seems to be a happy marriage for all.  The White Dixie vines are loaded with massive quantities of fat bean pods, and there are tomatillos in their papery husks hanging everywhere.   The tomatillos resemble green Chinese lanterns adorning the plants.

Although we live in Texas, our cooking usually features Asian or Mediterranean flavors.   Since tomatillos don't often appear in those cuisines, we opted for a Southwestern soup to use our tomatillos along with our Anaheim and jalapeno chiles.  Ironically, we selected a recipe from rebar written by two Canadian restaurant owners.  Even though the authors live in the Pacific Northwest, they know how to make great Southwestern vegetarian food.  We love this cookbook, and if we ever make it to Victoria, rebar will be our first stop.

Tomatillo Corn Chowder
adapted from rebar by Audrey Alsterberg and Wanda Urbanowicz


8        cups         vegetable stock
5                        Anaheim chiles, seeded
1 1/2   lb            tomatillos, husks removed
                          vegetable oil
1                        yellow onion, diced
10                      garlic cloves, minced
1         tsp           coriander
3         Tbs          oregano
4                        jalapeno, seeded and minced
1                         zucchini, diced
2                         potatoes, diced
3         cups         corn
1         cup          1/2 & 1/2
1         tsp            black pepper
                           fresh cilantro, chopped

  1. Heat oven to 400.  Cut Anaheim chiles in half.  Toss tomatillos lightly in vegetable oil.  Roast chiles and tomatillos on a sheet pan until the skins are slightly charred.  Remove from the oven, dice the Anaheims and chop the tomatillos.
  2. Saute onion in oil over medium high until translucent.  Add garlic, 1 tsp salt, and spices.  Add the jalapenos, zucchini, potatoes, and 1 tsp salt.  Saute for several minutes, then add the stock.  Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer and cook until potatoes are tender.
  3. Add corn, chiles, and tomatillos.  Simmer 10 more minutes.  Add the 1/2 & 1/2, and more stock if needed.  Remove 1/2 the soup and puree.  Season with salt and pepper.  
  4. Garnish with cilantro when serving. 
Tomatillo corn chowder made the Foodbuzz Top 9 today! The Foodbuzz Top 9 is a photo-driven collection of top-buzzed posts within the Foodbuzz community.  Congratulations again, and thanks for being a part of Foodbuzz!
Cheers, The Foodbuzz Editorial Team


  1. rebar is a great restaurant on Vancouver Island - it's worth the trip! And this looks like a fantastic recipe - can't wait to try it!

  2. I love your picture of the tomatillo and the chowder sounds super delicious!

  3. That's such a gorgeous photo of the tomatillo! The recipe looks fantastic too. I love corn chowder and this sounds like a fun new twist

  4. I should grow tomatillos - it's like I have to make a special trip to buy them at the store, and sometimes they're not ideal. Love your picture with the papery husk flying upwards!

  5. Great photo - love the colors and placing!

    Peas Love Carrots

  6. This soup sounds fantastic - love the combination of flavors! Definitely will have to try this.

  7. The recipe sounds fantastic! And your picture looks great too. Cheers.


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