Monday, March 4, 2013

Cherokee Hominy and Tomato Soup

Old traditional Native American cuisine!

     The Cherokee Nation tribes cover a lot of territory along the east coast and the south.  That is some good tomato and maize growing country, especially in the Carolinas.  Red soil produces some fine tasting tomatoes. 
     Hominy is maize that is treated with lime.  Lime and potash both can be used in the nixtamalization process.  By treating maize with lime, it makes the nutrients easily available for digestion.  
     There are many versions of Cherokee Hominy and Tomato Soup.  Many are plain and simple.  Some have wild animal meat in the recipe.  Some have native herb flavors that are not commonly available outside of the western hemisphere.
     Native Americans had quite a trade system and food items, seeds, dried chiles and dried herbs were common barter goods.  Trade between tribes happened all the time and still does.  Trade from as far away as South America occasionally happened, via trade routes through Mexico.  
     Ground dried sassafras leaves were commonly used to thicken Native American stews and soups.  Ground dried sassafras is called filé powder in Louisiana and it is one of the ingredients in many gumbo recipes.  Sassafras has a unique flowery herb flavor and it really adds a nice touch to this hominy tomato soup recipe.
     Onion and green onion adds nice flavor to this soup.  A couple of chile arbol pods add a nice spicy flavor.  Finger peppers are common throughout the south and dried finger peppers were stocked and traded nearly everywhere.  Black pepper is not native, so it was not used in this recipe.  There is no need for black pepper when chile peppers flavor a soup.  
     Pink peppercorn is native to Brazil and it is a native western hemisphere spice, so I added some to this soup.  It is highly unlikely that pink peppercorns were traded all the way up in the eastern states, but anything is possible.  Brazilian pepper trees grow all over Florida, but most people say that those trees were introduced in the 1900's.  I used to have Brazilian pepper trees and crocus sativas growing wild in my yard.  Top grade saffron and pink peppercorns were nice to have around, but they are invasive plants.
     No stock or broth was used to make this soup.  The ingredients simmering in water creates plenty of good flavor.  Salt deposits everywhere all have slightly different flavors.  Occasionally, I feature Himalayan black salt in a recipe.  Sea salt was used to season this soup.
     Cherokee Hominy and Tomato Soup is a great tasting healthy soup that is loaded with vitamins and nutrients.  A soup like this is perfect for the change of winter to spring seasons, even though tomatoes grow in early summer.  Fresh home grown overripe tomatoes are best for this recipe.  Not many people like GMO tomatoes or the recent price hike on those fresh tomatoes, so old seed tomatoes are best.  Most european brands of tomato are natural and not GMO, so they are also a great choice for this recipe. 

     Cherokee Hominy and Tomato Soup:
     This recipe makes 1 large serving of soup!
     Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 3 cups of water.
     Add 1 1/4 cups of hominy.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of imported Italian or Spanish diced tomatoes that are packed in their own juices.  (Peeled seeded overripe tomatoes and their own juices can be used.)
     Add 1/3 cup of small chopped onion.
     Add 2 small chopped green onions.
     Add sea salt.
     Add 1 or 2 whole chile arbol that have the stems removed.
     Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of partially crushed pink peppercorns.  (optional)
     Add 2 pinches of mild red chile powder.  (paprika)
     Bring the broth to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.  
     Gently simmer the soup, till the onions become tender.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of filé powder.  (ground dried sassafras leaves)
     Simmer and reduce the soup, till the broth becomes a rich red color and till the sassafras thickens the broth to a thin soup consistency.
     Ladle the soup into a shallow bowl.
     Try the mound the hominy in the bowl, so it can be seen.
     Try to place the 2 chile arbol on top, so they can be seen.  
     No garnish is necessary!

     The flavor of Cherokee Hominy and Tomato Soup is indescribably delicious!  Even plain versions of this soup taste great.  This is some good old fashioned cookin'.  Yum!  ...  Shawna


  1. Hi,my name is Shawna, in Alaska,and have Cherokee inheritance.Thank you for sharing

  2. Hi,my name is Shawna, in Alaska,and have Cherokee inheritance.Thank you for sharing