Mushroom Cactus Soup with Tomatillos
(Doesn't that title just sound AWESOME?)
1 lb. (approx. 2) nopales (cactus leaves - available in most grocery store produce section)
1/2 lb. ripe tomatoes (2 med)
1 c. thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
1/2 large onion
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 c. chopped jalapeño
1/4 t. crushed anise seeds
1 T. olive oil
6 c. vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 lb. (5 med) tomatillos, husked and washed
8 large sprigs cilantro
If nopales have needles/spikes, carefully trim from cactus with scissors or knife.
After removing needles, scrub with clean plastic scouring pad. Rinse with water and brush with olive oil.
Broil, turning occasionally until limp, approx. 10-15 minutes.
Set on large plate to cool, when cool, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut each half into 1/4 inch slices. Set aside.
Place tomatillos and tomatoes whole on baking sheet and broil until soft and blackened in spots - approx. 4 minutes each side. Once cool, peel tomatoes.
Combine garlic, jalapeño, onion, and anise with enough olive oil to sauté vegetables in large stock pot. (Note, use gloves when seeding and chopping jalapeños. Removing inner seeds and veins will greatly reduce the jalapeños'heat.) Cook over medium until onions are tender and garlic is fragrant (6 min.)
Combine tomatoes and tomatillos in food processor with 2 cups stock and cilantro. Puree until chunky smooth. Add this to garlic and onion mixture along with remaining stock, and simmer over medium. Add thinly sliced mushrooms.
Cover, allow to simmer 20 minutes.
Add cactus to soup and simmer 5 minutes more.