Spicy Sweet Corn And Poblano Soup

INGREDIENTS:

3 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
Vegetable oil for coating garlic
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 medium sweet onions such as Vidalia, Walla Walla, or Maui, chopped
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon peanut or vegetable oil
1/2 fresh jalapeño chili
2 fresh poblano chilies, roasted and peeled
3 ears fresh corn (about 2 cups corn kernels), reserving cobs
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
12 long fresh cilantro sprigs
2 – 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 red bell pepper, roasted and peeled
Garnish: 8 short cilantro sprigs

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Drizzle garlic lightly with vegetable oil and wrap in foil. Bake garlic 30 minutes, or until soft and slightly caramelized. Set aside.

In a dry small heavy skillet, toast coriander and cumin seeds over moderately high heat, stirring, until fragrant. Using an electric coffee/spice grinder, grind seeds to powder.

In large stock pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil over moderate heat, add chopped onions, stirring, until softened. Reserve about one third of onions in a small bowl, and set aside.

Wearing rubber gloves, slice jalapeño and chop roasted poblanos (abut 1 cup).

Remove kernels from ears of corn (about 2 cups), reserving cobs.

Add jalapeño and 1 cup corn kernels to onion mixture in stock pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Add ground spices, 1/2 cup poblanos, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

Cut reserved corn cobs into thirds and add with chicken broth to corn mixture. Simmer soup, uncovered, 30 minutes.

In a small heavy skillet, sauté remaining kernels in remaining teaspoon oil over moderately high heat, stirring, just until tender, about 3 minutes.

Remove and discard corn cobs from soup. Squeeze garlic pulp from skins and stir with cream into soup. Pour soup through a sieve into a bowl. In a blender, purée solids with just enough liquid until smooth.

Tie long coriander sprigs in a bunch with kitchen string. Transfer purée and remaining liquid to stockpot with tied coriander and lime juice and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, just until heated through.

Chop roasted bell pepper. Add bell pepper, remaining poblanos, reserved onions, and sautéed corn and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until heated through. Discard tied coriander.

Serve soup garnished with fresh cilantro sprigs.

YIELD: Makes about 8 cups.

SOURCE: Recipe adapted from Gourmet, July 1997