Archive for October, 2010

Corn & Roasted Poblano Chowder

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

I must come clean. I made this soup a few weeks ago and, in my haste, threw it directly into the freezer before writing about it. Not even one picture was snapped during its creation. I’ve had a number of “bigger issues” to focus on of late and I’m afraid I didn’t give this delectable soup its due. But it such a delicious dish – I felt the need to share. So – please forgive me for posting about this at the end of corn season. And for using a few stock images in place of the pictures I usually take myself. Hopefully your enjoyment of this chowder will more than make up for my behavior J

Fresh corn is easily at the top of my “favorite vegetables” list. Perhaps even my “favorite food” list. I ate it throughout the summer – fresh off the cob, roasted on the grill, stirred into casseroles. Sadly, I didn’t get around to making my favorite – fresh corn pudding. Next year… But I did manage to make a big batch of comforting soup.

The corn at the farmer’s market was ridiculously inexpensive so I bought about 12 ears and made a triple batch of Corn & Roasted Poblano Chowder. This is a lighter version than many I’ve tasted. Absent is the heavy cream and crispy bacon that grace many traditional chowders (both would be tasty additions should you want a more decadent bowlful). I wanted the corn to be the star – so I kept the fat content to a minimum and intensified the flavor – and the heat – by adding roasted poblano peppers.

Another trick – making my own stock. A friend recommended I reserve the cobs after removing all the kernels and throw them into a stock pot with some onions, carrots and whatever other vegetables I had on hand. I added the tops of the leeks I had laying around, covered everything with water and let it simmer for a few hours. After straining, I was left with a lightly sweet and savory vegetable broth that I froze for use throughout the winter.

The result of all this simmering and stewing is a healthy bowl of comfort food. Perfect for these crisp, cool days. Now I just need to find the perfect corn bread recipe to accompany it. Stay tuned!

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Corn & Roasted Poblano Chowder

Yield: 6 servings

  • 2 large poblano peppers
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2  tablespoons  butter
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1 1/2  cups coarsely chopped leek (about 1 large)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2  cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 2  cups milk
  • 3  tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3  cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2  cups  fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
  • 2  pounds  cubed peeled Yukon gold or red potato
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • Small bunch fresh cilantro (optional)

Instructions

Turn on the broiler. Liberally spray peppers with olive oil spray and place on foil-lined pan. Place under broiler for approximately 10 minutes – turning every few minutes to ensure even roasting. Once they are blackened – remove and place in brown paper bag and let sit for 10-20 minutes. Once cooled – remove all the blackened skin, cut open and remove seeds and cut into a small dice. Set aside.

Heat butter and oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add leek, onion and bell pepper; cook 4 – 6 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently.

Combine milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Slowly add milk mixture to the pot, stirring constantly. Stir in broth, corn, potato, salt, and freshly ground black pepper; bring to a boil. Stir in roasted poblano peppers. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender.

Serve with chopped cilantro.

Soup’s On!

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

I’ve been staring out my window at the last remnants of the kale for weeks – trying to figure out what to do with the lonely bunches of leaves scattered across my garden. I love kale – it’s earthy, chewy texture just tastes like nutrition incarnate. I didn’t always hold it in such regard. For years I thought of eating it as punishment. Bitter. Limp. Mushy. These are words that came to mind when thinking of this versatile green. Luckily I finally figured out how to prepare it and now it ranks as one of my favorite vegetables.

I spent weeks gazing at these leafy greens because there are just so many ways to prepare it. Kale chips – doused with olive oil, sprinkled with sea sat and roasted in a hot oven. Simply sautéed with garlic and fresh lemon. Stirred into mixed vegetable dishes. So many options. But I had what appeared to be a bushel of kale – both curly and lacinato (AKA dinosaur – which I prefer for it’s more delicate texture) growing in bunches in the garden. So I finally decided that soup was the ticket. Thick, rustic white bean soup featuring loads of the hearty, chewy leaves.

A quick review of recipes turned up a simple yet flavorful option. AND it features my favorite flavor enhancer – Parmesan cheese rinds! I’ve been cutting these ends off of my blocks of Parmigiano-Reggiano for months – storing them in the freezer. Just waiting for the perfect opportunity to make use of the salty, pungent slabs of rind.

This is the kind of soup that tastes best if made 1 or 2 days ahead. Just cool it and chill and then warm it back up when you’re ready to serve. It’s also an excellent candidate for freezing. It’s simply a bowl of health – filled with protein as well as anti-oxidant and vitamin-rich kale. Topped with a generous sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano… it makes me almost welcome the chilly days of fall.

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Kale & White Bean Soup

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dried white beans such as Great Northern, cannellini, or navy
  • 2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 (3- by 2-inch) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 4 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 lb kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (lacitano is preferable – but use whatever kind you wish)

Instructions

Cover beans with water by 2 inches in a large pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, 1 hour. Drain beans in a colander and rinse.

Cook onions in oil in an 8-quart pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add beans, broth, 1 quart water, cheese rind, salt, pepper, bay leaf, rosemary and crushed red pepper and simmer, uncovered, until beans are just tender, about 50 minutes.

Stir carrots into soup and simmer 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf and stir in kale and remaining quart water and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper. Remove cheese rinds before freezing or serving.

Note: while I think it’s perfectly delicious as is – you can spice this up by adding some sausage or pancetta to kick it up a notch. Just cook it up and add before tossing in the carrots.