A few weeks ago on CBC Edmonton AM, I started a series on comfort food. My first segment was on soups of Latin America. I knew from personal experience that Edmonton has some great Lain American restaurants but it had been a while since I’d been to some of them, and in the case of La Boca Loca, the first time I’d been, ever.
The soup pictured at the top of this post is Rostizado’s birria ramen which I tasted after the segment but is absolutely worth mentioning. You get a brothy slow-cooked beef that’s been marinated in dried chiles, chipotles in adobo, vinegar, herbs, and spices, plus ramen noodles and a pile of toppings (onion, corn, jalapenos, cilantro) along with a soft-boiled egg. The result is a delicious, somewhat spicy soup with some sweet, savoury and sour characteristics. This soup is available on Thursdays only, so put a notification in your calendar.
I chose Latin America because of the response I received on Twitter after posting a picture of Tres Carnales tortilla soup. That led to people commenting about other Mexican restaurants that offer that soup, as well. The tortilla soups at Mexico Lindo in Sherwood park and at Huma on the south side, and the chicken tortilla soup at Calle Mexico received a lot of praise.
Huma also makes pozole, a chicken or pork-based soup that has a dried specific corn (hominy) added to it. Pozole is made either red, green or white. Huma offers a pozole rojo (red) made with pork stock and a red sauce made with guajillo and chipotle peppers. It comes with shredded lettuce, diced onion, radish, cilantro and lime plus a tostada that you break up and add to the soup for some crunch. It’s delicious and filling.
On Sundays, Huma also offers a tripe soup called pancita but you have to pre-oder by Friday because they only make a limited amount and it always sells out. Tripe (the stomach lining of a cow) is commonly used throughout Latin America. El Fogon, a Venezuelan restaurant on 118 Avenue makes a soup called “Cowboy Soup”. The stock is made from cow and pigs feet, but in the bowl you have pieces of tripe and also potatoes, carrots, corn and capers. This is a soup with a lot of flavour. Acajutla, a Salvadoran restaurant on 107 Avenue, offers a similar soup called sopa da pata (tendon, tripe and vegetables).
My research also took me to Peru and Chile (figuratively speaking) to a restaurant on the south side called La Boca Loca, opened by Alex and Johana Salinas, a brother and sister who moved to Canada from Chile with their parents when they were very young. Alex is the chef and he makes Chilean, Peruvian and Argentinean dishes but my focus was on two kinds of soup: Sopa de Marisco, a seafood soup he makes in a Chilean style and then a Peruvian style that includes a spice called panca which adds a smoky flavour and a bit of kick.
Alex also makes Cazuela del Dia – a Chilean soup similar to a Jigg’s Dinner. You get a big bowl of meat, veg and broth but take out the big pieces, drink the broth, then add fresh onion, tomato and cilantro to the plate of meat and vegetables, mix that all together and then dig in.
These small restaurants need our support. Please order from them when you can so that they will still be there for us when this pandemic is over. With the weather averaging -25 Celsius for the next five days, any one (or all) of these soups would really hit the spot.