I like to let my Ancho Magnifico peppers ripen from green to red before harvesting them. The richer flavor that develops with the color adds another sweet/spicy layer to the gentle hot of these huge poblano peppers. But as the pepper season winds down the last remaining Ancho Magnificos are still green with little prospect of turning red. I harvested all of them, a dozen or so, yesterday afternoon during a break in the rain and roasted, skinned and seeded them. Even after roasting, they taste a little raw to me compared to the red versions but they are still very flavorful and they make a wonderful soup. I froze most of them but kept out enough to make Anna Thomas’s Sopa de Poblano from her inspiring cookbook Love Soup (2009). She introduces this recipe as “one of the most delicious soups I’ve eaten…a velvety puree, creamy from goat cheese, slightly spicy but not too hot, and full of the true flavor of fresh poblano chile peppers.” It is as delicious as she says and I have been making it in the fall with the last of the poblanos and then throughout the winter with frozen roasted poblanos both green and red. Don’t worry if you don’t have epazote or cilantro. The soup will still be delicious. I also stir the goat cheese in at the table and often substitute pecans or hazelnuts for the pine nuts. Whatever the variations, this is a great soup to stand up to the start of the rainy season.
Sopa de Poblano: Roasted Poblano Chile Soup
from Love Soup by Anna Thomas (2009)
about 6 fresh poblano chiles (1 1/2 lbs; 700 g)
1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped (1 lb; 450 g)
1 clove garlic, minced
6 cups (1 1/2 liters) basic light vegetable broth
1/2 cup (20 g) chopped cilantro
5 or 6 fresh epazote leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried crumbled epazote
4 oz (120 g) creamy white goat cheese
3 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts
Roast the chiles under a broiler, in a dry skillet over high heat, or on a charcoal grill, turning them from time to time until the skin is charred and blistered all over. Place them in a paper bag for about 10 minutes to let them sweat and then peel off the skins and remove the stems and seeds. Cut the peeled chiles into strips; you should have about 1 and 1/2 cups of peeled poblano strips.
In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the butter and olive oil and sauté the onions, stirring often, until they are translucent. Add the minced garlic and some salt and cook over low heat, stirring often, until the onions are golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
When the onions and garlic are very soft, combine them in a soup pot with the chile strips, broth, cilantro, and epazote. Cover the pot and simmer everything for about 20 minutes, then puree in a blender, in batches, or with an immersion blender until the soup is perfectly smooth.
Add the goat cheese to the pureed soup, stirring over low heat until the cheese has melted into the soup. Taste, and correct the seasoning with a pinch more salt if needed.
Serve the soup hot, with lightly toasted pine nuts scattered over each bowl. Because of its deep, intense flavor and spicy edge, this soup is best served in smaller portions as a first course — although people may ask for more.