Guatemalan Turkey Soup (Kak-Ik)

  • Serves

    serves 6

  • Cook

    2 hours 50 minutes


By SAVEUR Editors

Published on May 17, 2017

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.

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  • 4 12 lb. dark-meat turkey pieces, such as small legs and thighs
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 12 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.)
  • 12 cup minced green onions
  • 12 cup cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp. ground achiote (annatto seed)
  • 14 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • Hot sauce or chile paste, for serving (optional)


Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

Ladle the turkey pieces and broth into individual bowls, and serve with hot sauce or chile paste if desired.