A hearty, vegetarian Peruvian-inspired soup, Peruvian Potato and Mushroom Soup warms your tummy with an abundance of mushrooms, new potatoes, Lima beans, queso fresco, and fresh herbs. Served with crusty bread, it's a perfect fall and winter light meal!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - Soup Inspiration
Peruvian soup recipes make me happy. Actually, soup in general makes me happy. Our adventures in Peru opened my eyes to a whole new world of soups and stews. One of my favorites is sopa criolla, Peruvian beef noodle soup topped with a runny egg. I think that was the first Peruvian soup I posted on Beyond Mere Sustenance. It was later joined by a tomato bisque and a creamy pumpkin soup.
What makes this soup "Peruvian?"
Chile plays a very important role in Peruvian cooking. I keep ají amarillo, ají panca, and rocoto peppers in my well-stocked pantry. I have found that ají panca is often found in Peruvian soups.
While Peruvians are likely to use tarwi and broad beans, but I have not been able to find them in the US. I've tried dried broad beans (fava beans) and not been satisfied with their flavor or texture. I like baby lima beans as a substitution. By all means use tarwi or fava beans if you are so lucky!
Lima beans are grown commercially in the US, but they're a legume similar to tarwi and fava beans, and boast similar nutritional statistics.
Were I to enjoy this soup in Peru, the root vegetable would probably be more obscure than potatoes. You might find oca or olluco. Peruvians have access to hundreds of varieties of roots and tubers!
So, how did I "land" on this creamy Peruvian potato and mushroom soup? I have a budding collection of Peruvian cookbooks including Martin Morales' Andina: The Heart of Peruvian Food. This soup very loosely follows his Kapchi de Setas - Mushroom and Broad Bean Soup.
He specifies new potatoes and mushrooms, which I used. I substituted frozen baby lima beans for the broad beans, and a combination of half n half and mushroom broth for the full fat milk.
One ingredient common in Peruvian cooking is huacatay (Peruvian black mint). While I can find huacatay paste, I have yet to find fresh huacatay. I appreciate that Chef Morales suggests a combination of fresh herbs - tarragon, cilantro, and parsley - as a substitute. I feel this combination comes pretty close. By all means, use fresh huacatay if you can find it!
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- potatoes - I prefer very small new potatoes in this recipe because they cook so quickly!
- mushrooms - My "go to" mushroom for soups/stews is crimini (small portobello mushrooms). They're the same variety as "button" and "portobello," and their size, more mature flavor, and firm texture make them perfect for this stew.
- beans/legumes - as I mentioned above, in Peru, you'd find tarwi or broad beans. I find frozen lima beans come closest to what we had in Peru. You will add them to the soup cooked. Some lima beans are par-cooked and just need to have hot water run over them to thaw them. Others require cooking. See package instructions. You can substitute fresh or frozen green peas or other beans/legumes.
- fresh herbs - Peruvians use huacatay, but I have not found huacatay in the US. As mentioned above, the combination of parsley, tarragon, and cilantro is a pretty good "impostor."
- broth - I make vegan mushroom broth, and I happened to have some in my freezer. That's why the photo below looks a little separated. Use a good quality mushroom or vegetable broth. If you don't follow a plant-based diet, chicken broth is fine.
- cream or milk - I prefer the richness that half n half adds to the soup. You can use coconut milk creamer, whole fat milk, evaporated milk, or a rich non-dairy milk.
- cheese - Queso fresco (fresh cheese) is ubiquitous in Peru. Many households and cafés make their own, and bigger villages and cities have cheese shops that sell it. Mexican queso fresco found in the US is close to the Peruvian kind, and that is what I specify. You could substitute feta.
- ají panca paste - Ají panca has a smoky, sweet, subtle heat that is perfect in many soups and stews. It is a close relative of aji amarillo, but with a brighter, fresher flavor that doesn't taste cooked even after drying or cooking down to a paste. Ají amarillo is a decent substitute, but it will change the flavor and color.
- onion - Peruvians use a LOT OF ONIONS! You'll be fine substituting whatever you have.
- Cook the potatoes - Cut new potatoes in half lengthwise. Add to a medium-sized saucepan and cover with water. Add salt. Bring to a boil, and simmer until tender but not soft (8-10 minutes).
- Sauté the onion and mushrooms - To a Dutch oven or similar on medium-high heat, add a drizzle of olive oil, and onion. Sauté until the onion is beginning to soften. Add mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms begin to caramelize, then add garlic and ají panca paste. Season with salt and pepper. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Add the cooked lima beans (or other beans/legumes). De-glaze with the broth.
- Finish the soup - Add the half n half or milk, and heat gently. You don't want to boil the soup! While the soup heats, chop the fresh herbs and dice the cheese. Add the diced cheese just before ladling into bowls. Check for seasoning. You want to do this last because the cheese is salty, and you may not want more salt.
- Serve - Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish generously with fresh herbs. Enjoy!
How many does this soup recipe serve? I intentionally wrote this recipe for 2, making it easy to scale up.
Does this soup re-heat well or freeze well? I have not tried either. Part of the pleasure of this soup is in the texture and saltiness of bits of barely melted cheese. You would lose that in reheating the soup. You definitely want the herbs to be added immediately prior to eating the soup.
I hate lima beans. What else can I use? English peas, either fresh or frozen, are very typical in Peruvian soup recipes. Make sure you start with cooked to tender (not mushy) peas. Add them just before de-glazing with broth and heating the half n half or milk.
What kind of oil should I use? The obvious and simple choice is olive oil. If you (like me) keep truffle oil on hand, this is a great way to use it! It reinforces the mushroom flavor. Good olive oil is fine too!
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My husband and I enjoy this soup as a light supper with bread or muffins. It's also an excellent start course for a more extensive meal.
Do you love soups? I'd love to hear about your favorite soup recipes, and perhaps try them myself! Enjoy the season!
I have to admit that I didn’t use the cream; instead I used 1-1/4 cups of mushroom broth. It was still delicious and came together so quickly! Next time I might cut the veggies smaller to make it easier to eat.
Beyond Mere Sustenance says
I'm so glad you enjoyed it Eileen! Thanks for stopping by!