Roasted Chile Poblano Bisque

poblano

I had this soup for the first time at a very fancy wedding in San Felipe del Agua, the ritziest section of Oaxaca. The soup was delicious – creamy but not picante at all. One day I started craving chiles poblanos, and we made the soup for a cooking class. We had just been to the Etla market, where I had bought some requesón (farmer cheese), so we added it to thicken the soup, adding another dimension. The corn tortilla topping contributes a flavor contrast with the poblano. If the soup is too picante, you can double the amount of cheese.

ROASTED CHILE POBLANO BISQUE Serves 6

INGREDIENTS:

  • 7 chiles poblanos
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 medium white onions, thickly sliced
  • ½ head of garlic, cloves separated
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 sprigs fresh epazote* or 1½ teaspoons dried (optional)
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 2 ounces requesón (about 1/3 cup) or ricotta or farmer cheese (with salt)
  • *Epazote is also known as Wormseed or Mexican Tea; it can be found in Latin or Hispanic grocery stores.

    To serve:

    3 teaspoons Mexican fresh crema, heavy cream or créme fraîche

    4 corn tortillas, 8 inches in diameter, cut into thin strips and fried or toasted

    METHOD:

    In a 10-inch dry comal, griddle or in a cast-iron frying pan or over a open flame, roast the chiles until they blister, turning to roast all sides. Place in a bowl and top with another bowl, inverted, and set aside for 15 minutes to sweat. Peel and remove stems and seeds. Cut the clean flesh into strips; these are called rajas.

    In a heavy 4-quart stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the onions until transparent. Add the garlic and continue to cook about 5 minutes longer, but do not brown it. Add the chile strips and continue to cook about 20 minutes longer, stirring. Add the salt and pepper and epazote to the mixture, then follow with the chicken stock. Simmer 15 minutes longer, covered, over low heat.

    Puree the chile mixture in a blender until smooth. Return the puree to the pot and add the milk. Heat through. Remove ½ cup of the puree and blend with the requesón in a mixing bowl until smooth. Return mixture to the soup and heat through. Adjust salt to taste.

    To serve:

    Place the crema in a mixing bowl and beat it with a whisk until smooth. Thin with a little milk if necessary to make a thin stream. Pour the crema in a small plastic bag or squirt bottle. Place a ladle of soup in the bowl. Squirt about ½ teaspoon of crema onto each serving in a free-form fashion. Add a handful of tortilla strips on top in a vertical fashion or serve tostadas on the side.

    Hint: Sometimes, I sauté corn kernels in the chile mixture and puree it all to make a corn and poblano bisque; or I sauté the kernels on the side and add them to the pureed bisque.

    Bon Appétit!

    Excerpted from ¨Seasons of My Heart, A Culinary Journey Through Oaxaca, Mexico¨

Italian Fish Soup

From Culinary Signature Collection Appetizers, Rudi Sodamin

ItalianFishSoup

We serve this soup at our Canaletto restaurant on board the ms Eurodam, where it’s called Zuppa di Pesci.  Its fresh seafood flavors and aromatic broth have made it one of the most popular dishes on that menu.


YIELD: 6 SERVINGS

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • ½ lb. carrots (about 3 medium), peeled and cut into thin strips
  • ½ lb. leeks (about 2 medium), white and light green parts only, washed and cut into thin strips
  • 2 medium onions, minced
  • 1 ½ tbsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ tbsp. saffron threads
  • 1/8 tbsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 lb. tomatoes, cored, peeled, and finely diced
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ cup dry white wine (Sauvignon blanc or pinot blanc)
  • 8 cups white fish stock
  • Sea salt
  • 1 lb. striped bass, Alaskan rockfish, or red snapper with skin on, cut into 6 pieces
  • 4 ounces salmon, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 4 ounces medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 4 ounces bay scallops
  • 4 ounces squid, cut into rings
  • 6 sprigs fresh fennel or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Steps:

  1. In a heavy 6- or 8-quart soup pot of enamel-lined casserole, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the carrot and leek strips and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. With tongs, transfer about half of the carrots and leeks to a bowl and set aside for the garnish. Add the onions and garlic to the remaining vegetables in the pan and cook, stirring, until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes (reduce the heat if the vegetables begin to take on color)
  2. Add the saffron and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the wine and simmer, uncover, until the liquid is reduced by about half.
  3. Stir in the fish stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Carefully pour the soup through a fine sieve into another soup pot; discard the solids in the sieve.
  4. Season the strained soup with salt. Add the striped bass, salmon, shrimp, scallops, and squid; bring the soup to a simmer (by the time it simmers, the fish should be cooked through). Adjust the seasoning.
  5. Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, reheat the reserved carrot and leeks strips in the remaining 1-tablespoon oil until the carrots are cooked through but still slightly firm to the bite.  Season with salt. To serve, divide the snapper pieces and soup among warmed bowls. Top with the carrot and leek strips. Garnish with the sprigs of fennel and serve immediately, passing a pepper mill (if using)

Bon Appétit!

Black Bean Soup with Mango Relish

From A Taste of Excellence Cookbook, Rudi Sodamin

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This Cuban-style soup is also delicious served with rice: Unmold a ramekin of cooked rice into a shallow soup bowl, pour the soup around, and top the rice with the mango relish.


YIELD: 6 SERVINGS

Ingredients:

FOR THE MANGO RELISH

  • 1 mango, peeled and finely diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ bunch scallions, white and tender green portions only, thinly sliced
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime

FOR THE BLACK BEAN SOUP

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • ½ Spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup black beans, soaked overnight
  • 10 ½ cups vegetable stock, canned or homemade, plus extra for thinning soup
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Instructions:

FOR THE MANGO RELISH

In a small nonreactive bowl, combine all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.

 

FOR THE BLACK BEAN SOUP

In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add bacon, onion, and garlic; sauté until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.  Stir in cumin and cook a few seconds more.

Add dried beans, stock, vinegar, and salt.  Bring to a simmer and cook until beans are tender, about 40 minutes.  Let cool slightly.  With a slotted spoon, remove some black beans and reserve for garnish.  Transfer remaining contents of saucepan in batches to a blender.  Puree until smooth, adding additional stock if soup is too thick.  Reheat and adjust seasoning, adding black pepper.  Spoon into soup bowls and garnish with mango relish and reserved whole cooked black beans.

 

TIP

A blender works better than a food processor or a food mill for pureeing soups.  Food processors tend to leak around the motor shaft when filled more than halfway with hot soup, and food mills have a hard time breaking down fibrous ingredients.  To avoid burns, always remember to let your soup cool down a bit before pureeing it.  – Dennis Starch, executive chef

Bon Appétit!