Every fall, I look forward to the arrival of a huge variety of chile peppers at Northwest farmers markets—Poblano, Anaheim, Hatch, Cubanelle, Mesilla, Padron, New Mex Joe, Jalapeno, Crimson Lee, Serrano, Sweet Banana, Hungarian Hot Wax, and Hot Mexican to name a few–along with the gas-fired drum roaster that makes quick work of roasting them.
This past week, I spotted the giant roaster at the Portland Farmers Market and quickly scored roasted poblanos and New Mex Joes, both only moderately hot.
What a luxury to have the chiles already roasted and ready to use. The vendor assured me that he would be at the market for the next 10 weeks, so in late October, I plan to buy enough to stock the freezer for the winter months ahead.
I need them for so many dishes, and now most especially this velvety fall soup.
In case you don’t have access to roasted chiles, here’s how to roast them at home. It’s a simple process.
Roasting Fresh Chiles (or Bell Peppers)
This method works well for large batches of fresh chiles or bell peppers. When roasting bell peppers, you may want to cut the peppers in quarters or sixths, rather than halves. The point is to expose as much of the surface of the peppers to the broiling element as possible.
- Cut fresh chiles in half lengthwise through the core.
- Cut around the stem on each half.
- Remove the stem, along with all seeds and fleshy ribs.
- Spray a roasting pan with slotted insert or wire rack placed on a baking sheet with vegetable spray.
- Place chile halves, skin-side-up, on the rack.
- Broil, as close to the heating element as possible, for about 12-15 minutes, until the pepper skins are uniformly blackened.
- Remove baking sheet from the oven and, using tongs, place chile halves into a large paper bag. Seal the bag and leave chiles to steam for 15 minutes.
- Remove chile halves from the bag. Hold each under cool running water and gently peel away the charred, papery skin.
- Pat dry with paper towels and cut chiles according to recipe directions.
Direct Flame Method
This method is sometimes preferred when only 1 or 2 chiles need roasting. It requires an open flame, as with a gas stovetop.
- Hold a whole fresh chile with flame-proof metal tongs, and place the chile directly into the open flame of a gas burner. As the surface of the chile blackens, rotate the chile. Continue until the entire chile surface is blackened.
- Place blackened chiles into a paper bag and seal. Leave chiles to steam for 15 minutes.
- When chiles are cool enough to handle, with your fingertips or a small sharp knife, separate the stem from each one. Open the chiles out flat and remove the seeds and fleshy ribs with your hands. Rinse under cool running water.
Roasted Green Chile Soup with Mexican Crèma, Frizzled Tortillas & Charred Sweet Corn
When you hunger for the pure unadulterated taste of roasted green chiles, without competing distractions, this is the dish. The corn garnishes serve to both accentuate and counterpoint the chile flavor and the creamy texture of the soup. I consider them essential, so fortunately, they are both quick and easy to make.
Ingredient Note I was surprised by the heat level of the poblanos I used here, as their grocery store brethren are usually quite mild. If you don’t want a soup with a definite kick, be sure to sample your chiles beforehand to ascertain their heat level. Poblanos vary from almost no heat at all to moderately hot (hot, but unlikely to make you cry).
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white and pale green section only, cleaned, trimmed and sliced (1 cup sliced)
1 large yellow onion, peeled, trimmed, and chopped (2 cups chopped)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons toasted, ground cumin seeds
1 pound roasted green chiles with moderate heat (such as poblano chiles, stemmed, ribbed, seeded, and chopped (14 ounces or 2½ cups prepared)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (and perhaps 1-2 cup more)
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
freshly ground white pepper, to taste
Frizzled Tortillas (recipe below)
Charred Sweet Corn (recipe below)
- Prepare the garnishes. Reserve.
- In a soup pot, melt butter and oil over medium heat.
- Add leeks, onion, garlic, and cumin, and cook slowly to soften without browning, about 15 minutes.
- Add chiles, and stir to combine.
- Add flour, stir to combine, and cook for 2 minutes without browning, stirring constantly.
- Add stock, stir to combine, bring to a simmer, and partially cover.
- Simmer until chiles are tender, about 15 minutes, replenishing stock if it reduces too much.
- Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. (For an even smoother texture, let the soup cool somewhat, and then puree in a blender.)
- Add the cream and whisk to combine. Bring just to a simmer. Adjust the consistency of the soup by adding more stock if necessary.
- Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
- Ladle into serving bowls. Top each bowl with Frizzled Tortillas and Charred Sweet Corn.
Makes about 6 cups; serves 4-6.
I love the aroma and flavor of fried corn tortillas. They are the perfect crunchy garnish for this creamy smooth soup.
½ cup canola oil
three, 6½-inch diameter corn tortillas, cut into narrow strips
- Heat the oil in a small sauté pan until a drop of water sizzles when flicked on the surface.
- Fry the tortilla strips, turning with tongs, until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain.
Charred Sweet Corn
This garnish couldn’t be easier, and yet it packs a real flavor and texture wallop. Be forewarned that you may have trouble getting any of it to the soup, as kitchen elves seem to spirit if off whenever your back is turned.
1-2 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked, kernels cut from the cob
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
fine sea salt, to taste
- Put a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the oil.
- When the oil is hot, add the corn kernels and stir to coat with the oil.
- Let the corn toast on one side for a minute or two, and then, with a spatula, turn the kernels and toast the other side. Repeat, toasting and turning, until kernels are flecked with brown.
- Salt to taste and remove from the heat.
- Use hot as a garnish for soups, quesadillas, and tacos.
Variation: Roasted Green Chile & Pea Soup
While creating the above soup, I considered adding spinach to amp up the green color. But then, serendipity led me to a Bobby Flay recipe, Green Pea & Green Chile Soup with Crisp Serrano Ham & Mint-Cumin Crema, which uses peas for both color and an added touch of sweetness. I tried it with my recipe and love the effect.
- To the above recipe, at Step 8, add 2 cups of lightly cooked (still bright green), fresh or frozen peas.
Makes 8 cups; serves 6-8.
More from LunaCafe
- Green Chile Chowder with Yellow Finn Potatoes & Italian Kale
- Green Chile Crema
- Risotto of Sweet Corn with Corn Coulis, Zucchini, Chevre & Green Chile Oil
- Spicy, Creamy Mulligatawny Soup
- World Famous Green Chile Mac & Cheese
- My Bizzy Kitchen: Poblano Albondigas with Ancho Chile Soup
- Oregon State University Extension: Peppers
- Oregon State University: Peppers
- The Chilli Pepper Company: Growing Chili Peppers
- The Epicentre: Chile Pepper Varieties
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Copyright 2011 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.