Wednesday, February 20, 2008

We're in a soup kinda mood

When my husband and I took our honeymoon to Mexico, I came across a gem of a soup. I was instantly addicted. I came home and again began inventing and lo and behold, this soup was born. Yes, it is green, but give it a chance.

This soup is a little different than I'm sure most of you have seen because I have never found another version of it around here. It is Roasted Poblano Soup, yumm. In case you haven't heard of them, poblanos are a large green chile pepper. They are in the middle of the heat scale, not too spicy but with a little kick. The ones from last night were a lot milder than usual which I guess was good because my kids aren't so into the spicy food like my husband and I. I top the soup with a mound of cripsy tortilla strips and cotija (ko-tee-huh) cheese. Cotija cheese is a part-skim milk mexican cheese that you can find in most supermarkets now. It is dry and salty and can be crumbled over almost anything. It has a little resemblance to feta in both texture and taste. Fresh cilantro really adds brightness and I would urge you not to leave it out unless you are really adverse to it. During the summer months, I love to add fresh roasted corn on top for an added crunch. I also like to serve the soup with a pile of sliced limes for those that like a little zip to the soup.

It has been a long, long time since those honeymoon days spent on the beach in Mexico. And the soup had almost slipped my memory. I hadn't made it in a few years because frankly, I had forgotten about it. But, a conversation about our honeymoon brought it back to my memory and I am so glad that I could somewhat recall the way that I made it, (I had forgotten to write the recipe down years ago when I invented it). My kids were a little skeptical about eating something green as most kids are, but when they saw the crispy tortilla stips on top, they were a little less aprehensive. My oldest dove right in, (she is a lot like me in both temperament and image). She then questioned me as to why mine had cilantro and hers did not, I chopped some more and sprinkled it over hers at which point she exclaimed, "I love cilantro!". My other daughter however, began to pick the soup apart, (she is definately more like my husband!). She can't stand to have things mixed or touching. So, after seperating the tortilla stips from the soup, she ventured a little bite and then slowly ate the rest of the soup. My youngest, who is not quite 2 just played in the soup, but by the looks of him, I think that he got some in his mouth. My husband, who does not like anything that grows in the ground let alone anything green, loves this soup also. I am a little worried though, as he discovered my secret last night that the soup contains frozen peas. (Why didn't I throw the bag away before we ate?!) I hope that you enjoy this recipe as we do. It really is delicious, even if it is green.

Roasted Poblano Soup

4-5 poblano peppers
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (16oz) bag of frozen peas, thawed
1 potato, peeled and cubed
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
crispy tortilla strips or tortilla chips*
Cotija cheese (monterey jack can be substituted)
fresh cilantro

1. Preheat the broiler in your oven. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Place the poblano peppers on the cookie sheet and place under the broiler, close to the heat source. Broil, turing once the first side is charred and black. Make sure that the peppers are blackened all over. Remove the peppers from the sheete and place in a glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap, let sit for about 5 minutes to cool and allow the skins to loosen. When cool enough to handle, peel away the skins and then remove the stems. Open up and remove the seeds. Roughly chop the peppers.

2. While the peppers are in the bowl cooling, heat the oil in a dutch oven over meduim heat. Add the onion, celery and salt and pepper. Cook to softern about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and the peppers and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the peas, potato, broth and the water. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the peas are cooked and the potato is softened.

3. Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender. Or puree the soup in batches in a blender. ( do not fill the blender more than half full unless you want to be wearing that hot green soup!) If the soup is too thick, add water when blending.

4. Return the soup to the pot and warm through. Slowly stir in the cream, adjusting the amount depending on the spicyness and consistency Taste and add more salt if needed. Dish into bowls and top with tortilla strips, cheese and cilantro. Enjoy!

*to make your own tortilla strips, thinly slice a few corn tortillas. Place them on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Spray the tortilla strips with cooking spray, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with salt and bake at 450 degrees until crispy, about 5-10 minutes. watch them closely as they burn easily.

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