Photo of a bowl of Mexican cheese and potato soup

Caldo de Queso y Papa

I realize the Tucson definition of a “chilly winter evening” might not be as chilly as evenings in other locales. I also readily admit I’m a winter wimp – anything below 50° is my definition of cold.

On these chilly January evenings, Caldo de Queso y Papa (Cheese and Potato Soup) is the perfect answer to what to rustle up for supper. It’s a magical combination of potatoes, cheese, Anaheim chiles, tomato, onion and milk that’s really yummy and comes with a fabulous bonus: It’s ready in a jiffy.

It seems only natural, with origins in Hermosillo, in the Mexico state of Sonora, the soup became part of our borderlands cuisine. Its recognition outside southern Arizona and Sonora has grown steadily, perhaps thanks to Tucson’s City of Gastronomy designation and the food writers from around the world who’ve come to town, eaten and fallen in love with it, and shared its simple deliciousness with their readers.

News & Notes
On Jan. 19, Chef Riley Chandler shares his Stancato’s Italiano Sonora gastronomy in his Winter Pasta Workshop making ravioli in a butter sage sauce and fettuccine carbonara.

The wait is over for the opening of The Delta, 135 S. 6th Ave. It’s the second restaurant from The Parish’s team of Steve Dunn, Bryce Zeagler and incredible Chef Travis Peters. The bar and grill fare reflects the teams’ roots in Arizona, Texas and Louisiana. They describe it as The Parish’s “rebellious punk rock cousin.”

Chef Anthony Fullylove’s namesake eatery, Fullylove’s, has opened at its new location, 994 E. University Blvd. Chef Anthony previously cooked at Prep & Pastry and Commoner & Co.

Batch Café and Bar, 118 E. Congress St., just celebrated its sixth anniversary and in August was named one of America’s Best Bourbon Bars. With more than 750 bottles, it offers Arizona’s largest collection of bourbon, a full bar and craft beers, as well as boozy donuts and artisanal tacos. Husband and wife owners Ronnie and Christian Spece are Tucson natives.

Chef Maria Mazon and Tucson knifemaker Prabhs Singh of Singh Studio collaborated to create the Mazon Collection of an 8-inch chef knife and 6-inch petty knife, handmade by Singh. Last month, Chef Maria opened SONA Tortillas De Maiz Y Bodega, 527 N. 4th Ave., in the courtyard of her BOCA Tacos y Tequila restaurant, 533 N. 4th Ave.

Wishing you joy in the kitchen,

Caldo de Queso y Papa
Yield: 6 servings

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
8 cups stock (beef, chicken or vegetable)
2 cups whole milk
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 Anaheim or poblano chiles, roasted, sweated, peeled, seeded and cut into thin strips
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2-3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
14 oz. queso fresco or queso panela
¾ -1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

1. Remove cheese from the refrigerator, cut into 1-inch or slightly smaller cubes. Let warm to room temperature so that it will be ready to add to the broth before serving.

2. In a large, heavy 8 qt. stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. When hot, add onion and sauté 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until onion is translucent but not brown, then add garlic. Add potatoes, tomatoes and chiles and sauté and stir until softened, 4-5 minutes.

3. Add stock. Bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender but not falling apart and the soup has slightly thickened. Taste and salt as needed, especially if using pre-made stock avoid over salting. Reduce heat to medium-low and slowly add milk, then bring back to a gentle simmer until heated through.

4. To serve, warm 6 bowls, equally distribute cheese into each bowl, ladling soup over cheese. Serve hot.

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