Guatemalan Turkey Soup (Kak-Ik)
This rustic turkey soup—often served when christening a new home in Guatemala—has a sweet-sour broth made from puréed tomatoes, tomatillos, and lots of garlic. Classically, the vegetables are toasted on a comal or griddle over fire, then crushed into a purée using a grinding stone, but a cast-iron pan and blender work just as well. Serve kak-ik like the locals do: with a small bowl of chile paste on the side to customize your own spice level.
On the wood-fired griddles, Maya home cooks keep ancient traditions alive with recipes even their neighbors wouldn’t recognize
- 4 1⁄2 lb. dark-meat turkey pieces, such as small legs and thighs
- 1 tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
- 3 medium heads garlic, cloves peeled
- 14 small tomatillos (about 8 oz.), husked and rinsed
- 4 medium vine-ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lb.)
- 1⁄2 cup minced green onions
- 1⁄2 cup cup chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 tsp. ground achiote (annatto seed)
- 1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3 large bay leaves
- Hot sauce or chile paste, for serving (optional)
- In a large (6-quart) pot, add the turkey pieces, salt, pepper, and 8 cups water; bring to a simmer, then adjust the heat to maintain a low simmer.
- Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion pieces and garlic cloves in a single layer; cook, turning as needed, until charred all over and softened slightly, about 10 minutes total. Remove and transfer to a large bowl. Add the tomatillos and tomatoes to the skillet and cook, rotating occasionally, until well charred on all sides, 15–20 minutes; transfer to the bowl.
- Transfer half of the onion, garlic, tomatillos, and tomatoes to a blender; purée until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour this into the pot with the turkey, then repeat with the remaining vegetables.
- To the pot with the turkey, add the green onions, cilantro, achiote, cinnamon, and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a low simmer and cook uncovered, rotating the turkey pieces occasionally, until the meat is falling-apart tender, about 2 hours more. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Ladle the turkey pieces and broth into individual bowls, and serve with hot sauce or chile paste if desired.