The Best Vegetable Soup Is In Mexico

By JOHN M. DERBY
Times Founding Publisher
December 20, 2018

Now I have eaten a lot of soup in my lifetime, and some of it was very good, and I have made a lot of soup, and some of it was very bad.
Like the French Onion soup I tried to make, but did not sauté the onions ahead of time.
I thought all one had to do was cook the onions long enough, and they would turn into wonderful soup. So I cooked and I cooked, and I realized the longer I cooked, the worse the soup tasted.
It was then that I started adding things to the soup, and with each addition, the taste of the soup became more terrible, and the size of the soup grew until it could only be held in my biggest pot.
After over a week of cooking and adding to this pile of sewage, I dumped the whole mess in the garbage.
However, this story is not about the horrible onion soup I made, but about what maybe the best Mexican Vegetable Soup I have ever tasted.
It came from a little upstairs restaurant in Mulege, Baja California, Mexico.
I did not even order soup. It came with the meal, and the meal was hardly eatable; a mushy hamburger with slimy French Fries. However, the waiter served a little bowl of what he termed “vegetable soup,” and it was absolutely delectable.
In fact, I have no idea why they called it “vegetable soup” as there were no vegetables noticeable. It was a creamy pumpkin colored soup which could have been made up of anything, potatoes, carrots and peas.
The taste, whatever it was, melted on the tongue like liquid pleasure and when I left the restaurant I told the owner’s wife that it was the very best I had ever tasted.
She thanked me and I left only to return a week and a half later for the very reason of buying just the soup to take home with me.
The owner’s wife was there and I reminded her about the soup and asked if I might buy some. I explained that I could not stay for dinner because I had difficulty driving at night on Mexican roads because my night vision was not good.
She said she understood, and at that time, the chef came out of the kitchen in full dress. Most of the restaurants here do not have a chef — there is just one or two Mexican women in the back stirring things and cooking on make shift stoves.
Once the chef heard what I was saying he lead me to the kitchen and said he had several soups, all good. He had lentel, and some other kind which I do not recall, and then he mentioned “vegetable.”
I said “vegetable,” but I wanted to look at it first, and sure enough, there was that pumpkin orange look in a gallon jug in the refrigerator. I immediately pointed to it and handed him a jug which I had conveniently brought.
He filled it to the rim, and it may have been a quart, which I took back to the owner’s wife and said this was what I wanted. “What is the cost?”
There was a few moments while she and the chef discussed the price, and I thought I heard 400 pesos which was $20 and a little high, however, when she looked at me and said 80 pesos or $4, I was delighted and thanked them very much. If fact I gave them a tip of 20 pesos, or $1, and said I would be returning.
And I will, because that Mexican Vegetable Soup is out of this world.


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