December 2022
Local Food
Chef Molly Beverly

The Soup Diaries

Sopa Casado, A Story of Inspiration

The inspiration for Sopa Casado (‘Married Soup’) comes from the Turquoise Room Restaurant at La Posada in Winslow. The original La Posada was designed and built in 1930 by Mary Jane Coulter. Working for the Fred Harvey company, she also designed some great iconic buildings at the Grand Canyon (Desert Watchtower, Hermit's Rest, Hopi House, Lookout Studio). The original La Posada closed in 1957 and fell into neglect and disrepair. It was almost bulldozed.

Forty years later visionary investors purchased the building and began the restoration. For the restaurant they brought in John Sharpe, a top chef from Orange County in California. That's when I visited and experienced this amazing soup, really two soups in one bowl. One is an earthy, dark black bean, the other creamy yellow sweet corn. They appeared in one bowl, swirling around each other in a yin-yang embrace. Each bowlful was marked with a red chile cream signature. Each delicious spoonful played off contrasting flavors and colors, creating a taste adventure. I just had to figure out how to make it myself.

I remembered an excellent Yucatecan black bean soup that I had been making for years: Frijoles Negros de Olla (‘Black Beans in a Pot’). The recipe is simple. To make it you'll need three cups of cooked or canned black beans.

Start with a couple of tablespoons of oil in a medium soup pot. Add one chopped onion, a half-teaspoon each of ground cumin and ground black pepper, one tablespoon of mild chile powder and a teaspoon of salt. Sauté over medium heat until the onions and spices are browned. Stir continuously. Now add the beans, any bean-cooking liquid, and enough water to measure 1-1/2 cups. Turn off the heat. Blend till smooth. Return soup to pan and heat gently. Add milk (dairy or nondairy) to thin to a thick but pourable consistency. Turn off the heat. Taste and add salt or pepper al gusto (‘to your liking’).

I also remembered Sopa de Elote, fresh corn soup from Mexico, which I’d also been making for years. This is another very simple recipe. If it’s fresh corn season, you'll need about three ears of corn.

Cut the kernels from the cobs and measure four cups. Any extra will be great as a garnish or in a salad. If corn season has passed use frozen extra-sweet corn, but do not defrost it. Put the kernels in the blender with 1-1/2 cups of milk (dairy or nondairy) and half a teaspoon of salt. Add 1-1/2 cups of cooked butternut squash (my own personal variant; I usually cook the squash in the microwave). Blend till smooth. In a medium soup pan gently heat two tablespoons of butter or oil. Add a tablespoon of wheat or corn flour and stir for a minute. Now pour in the blender contents. Heat to a simmer, stirring all the time. The soup will thicken. Turn off the heat and taste. Add salt al gusto.

For the “signature” I remembered the recipe for Lighthouse Salsa from a friend years and years ago. She got it from a lighthouse keeper in Mexico. This crunchy, raw, tangy, spicy salsa is a great contrast to the two smooth soups. You'll need half a small onion, two cloves garlic, two green onions, 1/4 bunch cilantro, half a jalapeño pepper, and half a yellow chile pepper (mild), all finely minced. Chop three or four fresh ripe tomatoes. Mix everything together and add two or thee tablespoons of lime juice, a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of sugar. Stir well. Taste. Adjust seasonings with sugar, salt and lime juice.

When you're ready to serve, gently heat the two soups. Have a large spoon available for each. Tilt the soup bowl and carefully pour in one or two big spoonfuls of soup on one side of the bowl. Then gently spoon the other soup on the opposite side. It's much easier than it sounds. Cover the intersection of the two soups with a thick line of Lighthouse Salsa. Serve immediately with hot tortillas or chips. I call it Sopa Casado but maybe I should call it Sopa Prestada (‘Borrowed Soup'). Thanks to Chef John Sharpe for the original inspiration.


Visit La Posada and the Turquoise Room in Winslow for an amazing hotel and dining experience:

John Sharpe's original signature soup recipe (very different from mine) and many others appear in La Posada's Turquoise Room Cookbook. (Recipes below.)

Photos by Gary Beverly.


Frijoles Negros de Olla — Black Bean Soup

Makes about 5 cups. This soup is also delicious on its own, garnished with salsa and Mexican crema or avocados. Keeps well refrigerated or frozen.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon mild chile powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups cooked or canned black beans, drained with cooking liquid reserved

Bean-cooking liquid and enough more water to measure 1-1/2 cups

Milk (dairy or nondairy) as needed

Additional salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium soup pan. Add onions, chile powder, cumin, pepper and salt and sauté till onions are limp and browned and spices are toasted. Place beans, bean liquid/water mixture in blender with onion and puree until smooth. Return to pan. Thin with milk to a thick but pourable consistency. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking, al gusto.  

Sopa de Elote — Fresh Corn Soup

Yields about 6 cups. This soup is also delicious on its own, especially in fresh-sweet-corn season. Garnish with ripe tomato, avocado, cilantro or green onion. Keeps well refrigerated or frozen.

4 cups sweet corn kernels, cut from the cob or frozen (not defrosted)

1-1/2 cups cooked butternut squash (substitute any cooked winter squash or pumpkin)

2 cups milk (dairy or nondairy)

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter or oil

1 tablespoon wheat or corn flour (not cornstarch)

Place the corn, squash, milk, and salt in blender. Blend until completely smooth. Gently heat the butter or oil in a medium soup pan. Add flour. Stir for a minute over medium heat. Add blender ingredients. Heat to a simmer, stirring constantly. Turn off heat. Thin with milk to a thick but pourable consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste, al gusto.

Lighthouse Salsa

From Roberto, a lighthouse caretaker on the east coast of Yucatan. He used three jalapeños —

aieee! Refrigerate to store. Makes 2 cups.

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 white onion, finely minced

2 green onions, finely cut

3-4 sprigs cilantro, chopped

1/2 jalapeño, minced (more or less to taste)

1/2 yellow (mild) pepper, minced

3-4 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 teaspoon salt and 1 pinch of sugar, more or less to taste

Salt and sugar to taste

Mix together all ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and sugar and more minced jalapeño, al gusto.

Chef Molly Beverly is Prescott's leading creative food activist and teacher. Photos by Gary Beverly.