Tomatillos are the ‘country cousins’ of tomatoes (not too closely related, but similar) and are a staple of Mexican cooking because of their delicate sweet/sour taste. They are highly nutritious and available in every major U.S. grocery store particularly in the south and southwest, and they used to be the cheapest vegetable you could buy.
Just a few years ago they were about 33 cents a pound but in the last two years or so they have jumped up to 98 cents a pound in many places. However, a full pound of tomatillos are probably more than someone not running a Mexican restaurant would need at any one time. They are still one of the best food values around.
And so it is time to take a fresh look at the wonderfully inexpensive, always green tomatillo. I am especially familiar with tomatillos because where I grew up in New Mexico, wild tomatillos grew just about everywhere. In the spring they would pop up in the lawn in the grass, along with other wild plants that managed to seed themselves there. Tomatillos were very small low-growing plants with little paper-covered green balls about the size of your finger tip or smaller. I used to go into the yard and gather up a handful of the tiny tomatillos and eat them for their sweet/sour taste (before the lawn mower got them).
It was a long time before I realized that tomatillos were commercially grown and eaten by people in the Americas for centuries. As well they should be, because they are extremely nutritious. In fact, they have a very similar nutritional profile to tomatoes. Both are absolutely loaded with vitamins A, C, and K and tomatillos provide significant amounts of magnesium, potassium, and manganese along with a host of other micronutrients and — not to be outdone by the tomato! — tomatillos are also a good source of fiber.
Tomatillos are a little more tart and less juicy than tomatoes. They add an interesting little kick when diced up and added to salads or other vegetable dishes. But I believe that by far the best use of tomatillos is pureed and used as the base for sauces, salsas and soups. (Much of Mexico agrees with me. Any Mexican green sauce or salsa found anywhere will more than likely include tomatillos). My favorite use of tomatillos is to use them as the foundation of an incredibly healthy and delightful green soup in which all of the ingredients are green, green, green.
Note: Pureed tomatillo would be a great addition to any green smoothie or nutritional drink. They would add taste and nutritional jolt that is right up there with kale, spinach, or spirulina.
Tomatillo It’s-All-Green Soup
Note: (Vegan) This soup can be considered a “summer soup” because it can be served cold or hot. I think it tastes best when served at about room temperature.
Also, this soup can be made in a crockpot (or Onepot or Instapot) or, a little more quickly in a saucepan on the stove. I recommend the crockpot (if you don’t have one, you can pick up a small one for $10 at any big box store or major grocery store.)
Now for the easy part (and it’s all easy) Recipe:
- 4 large tomatillos (cleaned and pureed with one cup of water)
- 1 can of Green Enchilada Sauce (I use only half a can)
- 4-5 big cloves of garlic (only non-green addition)
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced green pepper
- 1 cup diced green onion
- 2 cups fresh spinach (optional)
- Spices: Salt and pepper to taste (the enchilada sauce provides most of the spice and heat)
- 2 Tofurky sausages, Original Italian ( besides excellent taste, these are plant based and keep up the green theme) I like these better than I ever did animal meat sausages.
- Peel off the papery outer skin and the stem from your tomatillos and give them a wash. Then slice them into quarters and put them into any kind of food processor or blender with a cup of water.
- Add the 4-5 cloves of garlic and puree to soupy consistency — should hardly take a second. Pour into the crockpot or pan.
- Open the can of Green Enchilada sauce (any brand will do) and pour about half into the pot (or all of it if you really like the heat).
- Slice and dice your green vegetables and throw them in the pot. No need to slice or prep your spinach (other than washing if not pre-washed) — just toss in and stir it into the mix.
- And now for the wonderful Tofurky sausages: slice them into about half inch medallions and then quarter up each one of those. Put them into the pot.
- Add water to the mixture in the pot until it is as thick or as thin and soupy as you like your soups. Also add salt to taste and any herbs you like — sage and rosemary can be interesting in this soup, but no further spices or herbs are required.
- Lastly, cook on medium setting or low for about a half hour and then you can leave it sitting on warm for as long as you like. This soup refrigerates beautifully and as I said early on — it tastes wonder either hot or cold, or better yet, cooled.
- Always the last and best step: Enjoy!