Sopa Verde de Elote Recipe

There is an wonderful Sopa Verde de Elote (green corn soup) in Diana Kennedy's Recipes from the Regional Cooks of Mexico published in 1978, I used it as inspiration for this variation - sweet corn and peas are off-set by a spike of green chile, a finishing dollop of creme fraiche, and generous squeeze of lime.

Sopa Verde de Elote

Not that I need much encouraging, but I've been compiling a good number of older cookbooks - early titles by authors I love, first editions, and such. The intent is to make them available at some point related to Quitokeeto - perhaps not on the site, more likely at the studio so people can pick and choose and browse in person. An example would be a book like this one - Diana Kennedy's Recipes from the Regional Cooks of Mexico published in 1978. It's the sort of title I like to revisit, for inspiration in my own kitchen, but also to understand what was inspiring Diana Kennedy in the 1970s. One of the recipes she highlights is a green corn soup - Sopa Verde de Elote. A soup she describes as "unusual and delicious" from Mi Libro de Cocina, published in San Luis Potosi in 1965. I took a few liberties with the recipe, and have to tell you, the resulting soup is something special. The color is a knockout - bright, vibrant green. And the flavor is surprisingly dynamic beyond the main base ingredients. There is the sweetness of corn and peas off-set by a spike of green chile, a finishing dollop of creme fraiche, and generous squeeze of lime. You get crunch from pepitas, fragrant green citrus notes from a shower of cilantro, and, as a bonus, it's a soup that comes together quite quickly.

Sopa Verde de EloteSopa Verde de Elote

I mention it in the headnotes below, the original recipe calls for tomatillos, which are easy to find at some points in the year, and not so easy at others. I did this version with zucchini, in case tomatillo is trick to come by - which I suspect it is for many of you. Different, but, I'd argue, equally tasty. xo -h

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Sopa Verde de Elote

HS note: (Defrosted) frozen peas and corn are fine to use here. Also, as I mentioned up above, the original recipe calls for tomatillo in place of the zucchini I used here. It's what I had on hand, and I also figured it would make the recipe more accessible to many of you. If you prefer to give the tomatillo a go, use a few small ones, and remove their outer lantern-like covering. Proceed with them whole in place of the zucchini.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small-med zucchini, seeded, chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 white onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups corn kernels
3 1/2 - 4 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup green peas
a small handful of fresh cilantro, plus more to serve
1 small serrano chile, charred and peeled*
3 large romaine lettuce leaves, or equivalent
2 1/2 - 3 teaspoons fine grain sea salt, or to taste

to serve: toasted pepitas, creme fraiche or salted yogurt, lime wedges, cilantro, chopped roasted serrano

Heat one tablespoon of the butter in a large soup pot, add the zucchini and cook for a few minutes, until soft. Remove from the skillet and blend using a hand blender or standard blender. I like a little texture here, but it is a matter of preference - smooth is also fine.

Wipe out the skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, and fry the onion and garlic, without browning, until soft. Add the pureed zucchini and cook over high heat for about three minutes, stirring constantly.

Blend the corn kernels in a separate bowl, or blender, with 2 cups of water, peas, cilantro, chile, and lettuce leaves. Really aim to get the mixture very smooth before adding to the zucchini mixture. Cook over medium-high heat for another few minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan constantly. Add another 1 1/2 cups of water, or more, depending on the consistency you like. Add the salt, plus more to taste, if needed. Serve with lots of the suggested toppings.

Serves 4-6.

*To char the chiles: place whole chiles on a hot skillet or grill, cook, rotating regularly, until blistered and charred on all sides. Transfer to a glass bowl, cover, and let steam for a few minutes. Now the chiles are ready to peel.

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 10 minutes

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This looks gorgeous, but I'm one of those people that can't stand fresh cilantro (tastes like soap to me). Can I use some fresh parsely and some dried cilantro instead? Or would that ruin the soup? Is there something else that would work better? Thanks!


Made this tonight and what a winner. The creaminess of the corn and the flavors were great. I should have read Matt's comment since I ended up with a block of ice in the Cuisinart. I did the tomatillos and then the corn and peas in the Cuisinart but left the onions and garlic diced. The difference in textures worked for me.


This soup was the I am partial to cooking with tomatillos so natch I went for those and their acidity lent itself beautifully to the other components. The creme fraiche and toasted pepitas took it to the next level of course. I made it alongside the Bar Tartine Cauliflower Salad from a previous post and the two complimented eachother perfectly. Thanks Heidi for another winner.

Molly Robinson

Delicious!! I had such fun making this. I only wish I'd doubled the recipe to have more. Topped with goat cheese and cilantro. Thank you!!


wow... beautiful. this soup sounds amazing. I can't wait to try it. Valentina


These flavors just sound like they would be amazing together. I love the bright green color of the soup. I have a smoothie that looks just that same color (with totally different ingredients). Love your blog, I'll be visiting again soon!


Just made this and LOVED it! Didn't have pepitas, so I toasted some walnuts instead - oh and only had 2 ears of corn, so the ratio ended up a bit different. Drizzled with salted Strauss whole milk yoghurt, it was just perfect. My kind of comfort food!

Rena B Meyer

Lovely soup I'm eating it right now! I had no idea what I was going to do with all these random vegetables I had and then I saw this. I used tomatillos and it lends a refreshing tone.


I just made this and it was delicious! Surprisingly creamy, even before the addition of creme fraiche. Definitely saving this one to make again. Although- I do think I want to try different toppings next time, but I'm not sure exactly what I want. Maybe some fried queso fresco or paneer and/or fried tortilla strips. I don't know that that's exactly right- I'd love to hear some other ideas!

HS: Love the idea of a crispy topping :)


We made this soup last night. Delicious! Tangy (the lime I suppose) and so rich and creamy. This one will become a "keeper" in our house. We used tomatillos. We didn't know how many to use as an exchange for the zucchini so used 6 small ones. One small serrano was enough for us. Thanks!


The color of this is so vibrant. I love it! I also collect older cookbooks, as I find they teach me so many skills in the old style of cooking that I meld with the new style. I think it gives me a unique edge. Thank you for this beautiful post.

kristie @

My favorite recipe from this book is the "Sonoran bean puree." It's marvelous but does contain milk and cheese so you would have to do some adapting. I was lucky enough to see Ms. Kennedy teach that recipe in a class in the '70s. She was quite strict and I'm not sure how she would like our adaptations, but whatever works... Now, thanks to you I will try this soup.

HS: ;)


I love the incredible green. I am definitely going to try this soup out! Thank you!

Retete Noi

To anyone that reads that you can use frozen peas and corn, do not make the mistake I did and forget to thaw them before adding water to them. (if for some reason you do this, I suggest a double boiler with the mixing bowl to defrost the giant ice block you have)


The colors of this are amazing! I'm a huge tomatillo fan, so I might have to try it that way too!

Sarah from Soymilk + Honey

What a lovely soup! Thank you for the suggestion to swap zucchini for tomatillos - they are difficult to find where I am.

Emily | Jelly Toast

I'm wondering the same thing as JB; why is it necessary to blend the zucchini separately? Thank you, this looks delicious.

HS: Hi Robin & JB - it's just a different way to start a base for the soup. Where you sort of sear and concentrate the base before moving on...


Heidi, every bowl you make looks absolutely fantastic, mouthwatering and enticing - I want to eat everything and most often I do but especially this vibrant green soup! I love old cookbooks, particularly the ones from my childhood which I inherited from my aunts and mother (1940 & 50s). Wishing, I'd still be living In Sunnyvale and could just pop round and browse the new Q rooms and the books, sigh, N.


This soup looks wonderful. I often revisit Diana Kennedy's books for inspiration and ideas. I'm always surprised how she turns simple ingredients into something magical.

Kate @ ¡Hola! Jalapeño

I just made this for supper and it was gorgeous; such a symphony of flavors! I mixed smoked sea salt with the yogurt and oh it nuzzled so nicely with the lime.


This sounds delicious, and looks absolutely gorgeous! Those wooden bowls are amazing, and look so beautiful next to the vibrant green of the soup!

Rachael | Spache the Spatula

Heidi, this soup is one of the reasons I come back to our site time and time again to check for new posts (even though I have subscribed - I am always worried about missing one) and, if there isn't a new post for me to read, to browse your archives. Although the soup sounds unlike any soup I have ever made or enjoyed, it sounds delicious and straightforward. Like so many other recipes of yours, whether those lent from elsewhere or developed from scratch, this one just opened my eyes again to new ingredient and flavour combinations. So thank you. Thank you for your blog and for inspiring us to try something new every one in a while.


Love the green. I like cooking with Romaine, actually...but my favorite on the grill. I can't get behind pepitas...though I know they are so good for me! Thank you for this.


I love the idea of reviving recipes from some of the cookbook authors who shaped food and brought us to where we are today. What we were eating then is so interesting and important. We have the cookbook collection that was my mother's, and I know there is some Diana Kennedy in there. I have old Gourmet's from the 40's, and talk about a snapshot of the times! Keep digging!

Catherine Berryessa

I wonder if you found a great recipe for cilantro soup among your old cookbooks? I had an unforgettable one at a Mexican Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale and am still trying to re-create it.


We have so much tomatillo in the garden...I can't wait to try this! Happy Nesting.


This is the fourth time lately I have made a special trip to the grocers for ingredients for one of your recipes. First time was for Pluot salad, next Shredded Salad, Bar Tartine Cauliflower Salad, all so delicious I passed your site onto my foody friends. Now for this amazing looking soup and I have tomatillo's in my garden, so I will try those first. On a side note would you be willing to write up the titles to the books you have been collecting, I would love to check my local used books stores for them. Thanks Heidi! Kate


Wow, this looks like such a delicious and unique soup! I have some late season zucchini in my garden, definitely going to try this soup out!

Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog

Love the idea of the idea of first edition old cookbooks and this soup is beautiful, looking forward to trying it! Thanks for sharing.


Does it make a difference blending the ingredients separately, to make an even quicker (and cleaner) job of it, do you think it would get the same result cooking the zucchini, onion and garlic in butter together, then pureeing everything together with the other ingredients?


Oh, what a gorgeous soup. And thank you for trying this with zucchini for those of us who don't have access to fresh tomatillos, although I know it's a very different flavor. This is a great way to use the last of our summer corn!

Katie @ Whole Nourishment

Oh my, this is so gorgeous. After our 24 degrees overnight temperature, I'm going to make this soup as a final reminder of a glorious summer--and while I can still get fresh corn at the market.


Beautiful. Perfect. I need an inspiring soup to make. Thank you! Also where did you get that bowl it's in? Selling them at Q I hope? xx Aria

HS: Hi Aria - no, I picked it up at Bram - an amazing little claypot cookware store in Sonoma. They come in a range of sizes.

Aria Alpert Adjani

I never know what to do with tomatillos. They grew like crazy in my garden. Thanks for the inspiration!

Elaine @Flavour&Savour

Love the vibrant green, I feel refreshed just looking at it :)

Catherine @ Chocolate & Vegetables

Perfect timing - we just got tomatillos in our CSA yesterday. Can't wait to give this soup a try. Thank you!


We just finished your cauliflower soup with mustardy croutons yesterday (except we put the mustard straight in the soup and skipped the croutons), so this looks like a perfect big-pot replacement for the week. Thanks!

Ksenia @ At the Immigrant's Table

This soup looks amazing, and I can only imagine the punch of flavours it holds, it looks absolutely stunning! Looking through old recipes is always so inspiring :D Thanks for sharing! x

Jules @ WolfItDown

This is so beautiful. I love the idea of going back to the old, grabbing recipes of cookbooks where there aren't even any pictures or maybe only some illustrations and being surprised by the outcome.


Looks great. Very interesting addition of the lettuce leaves...


Such a gorgeous soup. The name alone is calling to me!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

What a beautiful soup with so many great flavors. I can't wait to try it!

Kim @ Cook With 2 Chicks

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