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DigiBites: Mo Poblanos – Chef Charlie Responds To Reader Requests For More Zing

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Photo: Chef Charles Vollmar/Epicurean Exchange

This recipe is one of my summer favorites. I made a batch for the family last night with fresh white corn I found at Diablo Foods (presented on shaved ice – not usual, but preferred).  Read more about this below.

The last of the fresh summer white corn is available in better markets, but not for long! Suggest trying this soup recipe in the next few weeks using the fresh corn for an unbelievable sweet and smokey flavor.

Remember, for corn, freshness means staying cool, since warmth converts the sugar in the kernels into starch. In the supermarket, corn should be displayed on ice or in a refrigerated bin. At a farmers’ market, it should be kept at least in the shade, and preferably on ice. Shop early in the day for the best selection of locally grown corn. Ideally, it should have been picked the morning you buy it. The corn should not be piled high in the bin, or it will generate its own heat, and hasten the conversion of sugar to starch.

If you miss the fresh corn, frozen is the next best option. The recipe is posted on the Epicurean Exchange Blog. Give it a try, share with others and let me know what you think!

To roast the poblano chiles: To remove the skins from poblano chiles, place them over a gas flame on the stove top or grill

Photo: Charles Vollmar/Epicurean Exchange

(pictured), or under a broiler, turning frequently until they are completely charred. Place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow them to steam for 10 – 15 minutes to loosen the skins. Remove the blackened skins with the fingers, and open to remove the seeds, pod and stem.  The flesh can them be chopped to add to the recipe.

Seasoning and Finishing: Remember, cooking is far more than just adding all the ingredients to the pot.  Most home cooks miss the subtle finishings in the form of seasoning and presentation that makes all your efforts worthwhile.  I posted a discussion of SALTS earlier in the year.  This is a time to put your new-found knowledge to the test.  Here’s what you need to do:  (1) Make the soup as described without any salt. (2) Taste the soup after its made; it will be bland and lack richness. (3)  Add a couple of big pinches of kosher salt (you bought this after reading the salt blog).  Stir to combine and let rest for 1 minute.  (4) Taste again. The soup should taste sweeter (corn), spicier (chiles) and richer (fats, butter and milk).  (5) Probably needs another addition or two to meet the mark. Now, doesn’t that make a difference?  Salt has the ability to elevate existing flavors – salt and spice – as well as balance acidity.  Remember this as you approach the finishing of any dish.

Equipment: As a professional chef, I am not a cooking equipment snob, but know what I like.  Over the years I have discovered that I can produce more with less, and have downsized keeping only the most useful tools. I highly value great cookware, knives and small electrics.  You can ask and I will share my recommendations over time.  For this recipe, you need a very good blender.  I suggest the Vitamix. This tool can be costly, but worth the investment. Why? The power of this machine has the ability to pulverize anything that you place in it.  Which means, you don’t have to worry about skins, seeds, (and silk from the corn), as it is all puréed to a smooth, creamy texture.  All of the essential important fiber is maintained, but is not gritty and doesn’t require the soup to be strained.  And, this machine is perfect for making smoothies for nutrient-rich results!

Vitamix machines are available at local kitchenware stores, Amazon, Costco (which has a special sale every year) and at my partner East Bay Restaurant Supply at Jack London Square (mentioned Epicurean Exchange and they may offer a discount). This goes for all purchases at this location.  Happy shopping and cooking!

Corn and Roasted Poblano Soup

4 cups whole milk (best, or you can use reduced fat milk)

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 bay leaf

Sprig of fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

Big pinch of kosher salt

4 cloves garlic minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

4 ears fresh corn

3 medium poblano chilies, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Reserve 2 tablespoons corn and 2 tablespoons roasted chiles, for garnish

  • Combine the milk, cumin seeds, bay leaf and rosemary in a medium saucepan.  Place over low heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let rest for 20 minutes to infuse flavors.
  • Heat butter in another medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions, and sauté until golden brown, 10 – 12 minutes.  Add the garlic and ground cumin and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes more.  Add the corn kernels and diced chiles and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Strain the milk through a fine mesh strainer into the corn and chili mixture. Purée in a blender, in batches, until smooth.  Re-heat to warm, but do not boil.  Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with reserved corn and chilies and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 4

© 2014, Epicurean Exchange.  All rights reserved

13 COMMENTS

  1. Checking to see if the Amazon person will bring me one of those Vitamix blenders. Need me one of those!

      • Yeh looks like about $550 for the Pro Model on Amazon. I’d be into getting one for soups and things. If the chef thinks the price is right I’ll put in a call to Jeff Bezos and order one.

        • Sorry for the delay in responding, Kris. I say give Jeff a call. We’ve wasted too much time already!

  2. I can smell those peppers roasting and am acutely aware that it is almost lunch time. Don’t know that I can do this soup today but I’m scrolling back into your other recipes to see if it matches with groceries on hand. Think we’ll stay in and cook tonight — rent a movie!

  3. I own a Vitamix, and I’m very happy with it. Is it worth it? If you can afford it, you’re into healthier eating and you use it on a regular basis. You will be happy with the results, and it will last a long time. If not, you’re probably better off with your average blender. Like anything else, it’s not for everybody…

    • Consumer reviews at 24680! Yay! Yes they look like little tanks and solidly built. Do you have the professional model or another type? We be into it for soups.

      • Chef Charlie here…
        I have the 7500 low profile. Very happy with it. Price is an issue; not cheap. Suggest checking all sources. Never bought anything refurbished (which is an option), but price is considerably less.
        If you want performance, and use it very frequently, like I do, it is worth it!
        Hope this helps.

        • Very helpful and thanks!!!! Enjoy your column very much. Learning a few things and like your vibe.

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