Chef Angel Vázquez of Intro restaurant in Puebla, Mexico, has composed this recipe for a multi-textured soup with crunchy cactus pieces, creamy avocado and an elegant poached quail egg in a spicy chipotle soup. Cojita is an aged hard cheese, very salty and firm – a good substitute is a well-aged parmesan or pecorino.
- 4 cactus paddles (see Note)
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 litre (4 cups) water
- 100 g avocado slices
- 50 g Cotija cheese, shaved
- 4 quail eggs, poached
- 5 g radish sprouts
- 100 ml corn oil
- ½ white onion, sliced finely
- 4 tomatoes
- 1 dried chipotle chilli
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock
- 1 sprig epazote
- salt and pepper, to taste
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cut the cactus paddles into 1 cm pieces, then place in a non-reactive bowl. Add the salt and rub vigorously for 30 seconds. Rinse and dry.
Place the water in a 20 cm saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the cactus and boil for 1 minute, then drain. Reserve.
To prepare the soup, heat a 25 cm saucepan over medium heat. Add the corn oil and onion. Cook gently, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, without colouring, until softened. Add the tomato and chipotle chilli. Cook for a further 3 minutes or until the tomato breaks down. Add the flour and stir well, then add the chicken stock and epazote. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, remove the epazote, then blend until very smooth. Pour into a clean saucepan.
Return the soup to the boil. Garnish the base of a large flat soup bowl with the cactus, avocado slices and Cojita cheese. Gently pour the heated soup around the bowl, then place the quail egg on top and garnish with radish sprouts. Serve.
• If fresh cactus paddles are unavailable, pre-prepared cactus paddles (sold as nopales or nopalitos) may be used and require no preparation.