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Poblano Chile Soup (Sopa de Chile Poblano)

The large poblano chile is extremely versatile. It can be stuffed, cut into rajas (strips), which are used in a variety of ways, or made into this simple yet elegant traditional soup. The area around the town of San Martín Texmelucan, close by the highway between Mexico City and Puebla, is one of the primary growing regions for poblano chiles—a chile named for this state—so it is not surprising that local cooks use them frequently. The creme sweetens the rich spice of the chiles, and the peas lend a brighter green hue to the finished soup.

To roast the chiles, use long-handled tongs to hold them over a gas-stove burner until their skins are evenly blistered and charred, about 5 minutes; or roast directly over a very hot charcoal or gas grill. Alternatively, roast under a preheated broiler, turning occasionally, until evenly blackened and blistered, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the chiles to a paper bag and let stand for 5 minutes before peeling.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter 
  • 1 tsp. safflower or canola oil 
  • 4 poblano chiles, roasted (see note above), peeled, seeded and deveined, then cut into long, narrow strips 
  • 1 white onion, chopped 
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped 
  • 6 cups chicken broth 
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen English peas 
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds, finely ground 
  • 5 Tbs. crema or crème fraîche 

Directions:

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Stir in the chiles, onion and garlic and sauté, stirring, until well softened, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, peas, salt and pepper and simmer, uncovered, to blend the flavors, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Working in batches, pour the chile mixture into a blender, add the almonds and process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Reheat the soup if necessary.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with the creme. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Mexico, by Marilyn Tausend (Time-Life Books, 2000).