I first learned about huitlacoche during a freelance project I took with StarChefs. The project entailed cooking 18 recipes using goat cheese. I made gorditas with huitlacoche and was hooked instantly. This recipe for chicken and huitlacoche soup with sweet potatoes is big and bold. But it’s also sweet and spicy and earthy and rich.
So what is huitlacoche? It’s a fungus that grows on corn. Honestly, it sounds a little gross and doesn’t look super appetizing, but holy moly. In this chicken and huitlacoche soup, it adds complex sweet, earthy flavors. It’s perfect as a soup base or as a base for taco or rice toppings.
If you can’t find huitlacoche (sometimes spelled cuitlacoche) at your local store, you can buy it on Amazon as well. Different brands will have different flavors. The brand I bought from Amazon was sweet and earthy. The Goya brand had slight cinnamon flavor undertones which I loved as well.
Regardless, I think this corn fungus will become your new favorite secret weapon in the kitchen. When you tell people what it is, they won’t believe you! You can start with this chicken and huitlacoche soup with sweet potatoes for a rich, wintry night soup. It tastes absolutely delicious.
Looking for more soup recipes? Check my archives!
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Chicken and Huitlacoche Soup with Sweet Potatoes
- Large pot
- Aluminum foil
- Sheet pan
- Sauce pan
- Fine mesh sieve
- 4 whole chicken legs (or 2 chicken legs and 2 chicken breasts)
- 1 large onion peeled and quartered
- 1 head of garlic halved cross-wise, paper left on
- 2 jalapeño peppers halved lengthwise
- 3 tomatoes left whole
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 3 tablespoons neutral cooking oil divided
- 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
- 2 serrano peppers trimmed and minced
- 1 can huitlacoche
- 3 poblano peppers trimmed and deseeded
- 2 sweet potatoes peeled and diced
- 10 ounces frozen sweet corn
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds lightly crushed, divided
- 2 tablespoons chili powder divided
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons dry Mexican oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 bunches fresh cilantro trimmed
- 2 cups neutral cooking oil
- Salt, to taste
For Serving (Optional):
- Sliced avocado
- Sliced radishes
- Oaxaca or cotija cheese, shredded or crumbled
Prepare the Chicken Stock:
- Combine all the ingredients for the chicken stock in a large pot and cover with water (you will need 6-8 cups water). Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes until the chicken is very tender. Lightly crush the tomatoes before straining.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and strain the stock into a large bowl. Discard solids.
- Pick the chicken from the bones and shred and set aside. Discard the bones and skin.
Prepare the Cilantro Oil:
- Combine the cilantro and oil in a saucepan over low heat. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, crushing the cilantro lightly as it cooks. The oil should turn a nice green color. Turn off the heat.
- Strain the oil through a fine mesh sieve into a heat proof dish and discard the cilantro. Season the oil with salt and set aside.
Roast the Poblano Peppers and Sweet Potatoes:
- Preheat oven to 450ºF.
- Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Arrange the sweet potatoes on half the sheet pan and the poblano peppers on the other half. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons neutral oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, 1 tablespoon chili powder, and the garlic powder and toss to coat.
- Transfer to the oven for 30-40 minutes until the poblano peppers are charred and the potatoes are very soft.
- Remove the sheet pan from the oven and turn the broiler on.
- Move the poblano peppers to a plate to cool and pour the frozen corn on the empty side of the sheet tray. Sprinkle the corn with more spices, if desired (chili powder, lightly crushed cumin seeds, or cayenne pepper).
- Transfer to the broiler for 2-3 minutes or until the sweet potatoes and corn begin to char on top. Turn off the broiler and set the roasted vegetables aside until needed.
- Peel the poblano peppers and roughly chop.
Prepare the Soup:
- After you've strained the stock, wipe out the stockpot and return to the stove.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat.
- Add the diced onion and serrano peppers and cook for 5-6 minutes until the onions begin to soften slightly.
- Pour in the huitlacoche and cook for 5 minutes more. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Add the shredded chicken and chicken stock and bring to a boil.
- Season with the remaining cumin seeds, chili powder. paprika, and Mexican oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the chopped poblano peppers along with roasted corn and sweet potatoes.
- Simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and then season to taste. If the soup doesn't have enough broth, add a bit more water, 1 cup at a time, and simmer an additional 10 minutes.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with avocado, radish, and cheese, if using. Drizzle with the reserved cilantro oil. Enjoy!