Thursday, November 19, 2015

Corn and Shishito Pepper Soup

Carla gives me a coffee table Mexican cookbook. Fonda San Miguel, a revered Austin restaurant, binds their beloved recipes into a stunning book. The corn soup is by far my favorite. 

This is not a soupy soup. It's a hefty puree, a ladleful that pools on a spoon. A mouthful of pure unadulterated corn flavor. You start by slicing off shucked corn using a sharp knife. My technique is to hold the ear vertically in wide bowl. Corn bits fly across the counter, but almost all of them land in the bowl. I slice in a downward motion going all the way to the bottom, rotating corn as I slice. There are a plethora of devices on the market that make this job easier. I prefer the vertical slice method. Blitz corn kernels with milk. Not too smooth, as you want to taste bits of corn. This gives the soup its signature taste. I add a pat of butter, lightly season with salt and pepper and a quick simmer... And soup is good to go. 

Garnishes are requisite. The recipe calls for poblano peppers. But my current obsession is Shishito peppers. I blister some in a pan and float them on the soup. I fry a blizzard of tortilla shreds till golden brown, the must-have crunch the soup needs. Some shredded spicy cheese adds a  distinct flavor. All I want for is a spoon.

Serves 4

4 ears fresh Corn OR 4 cups frozen Corn
4 cups whole or 2% Milk
2 tablespoons Butter
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper 
2 cups Shishito Peppers
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
2 flour Tortillas 
1 cup Canola Oil 
4 tablespoons shredded Monterey Jack with jalapeƱos

If you are using fresh corn, remove outer husks and silk. Stand corn vertically on a plate or a bowl and remove kernels with a sharp knife. Rotate corn as you slice. Do this carefully as ears tend to slip occasionally. 

Put the cobs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a low simmer for 5 minutes. Use the corn stock to thin the soup if desired. 

Frozen corn needs to be defrosted before using. 

Blend corn and milk till almost smooth. You might have to do this in batches.

Pour pureed corn into a saucepan. Place saucepan over medium heat.

Once soup has bubbled, add butter, salt and pepper. Let soup simmer for another 5 minutes. If desired, use the corn broth to thin out the soup. Season soup accordingly.

Remove stems of shishito peppers. Cut into 1 inch pieces.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in saucepan. 

Add peppers and saute over a high flame till flecked brown for 5-7 minutes. 

Heat a cup of oil in wok or frying pan. 

Cut tortillas into thin shreds and deep fry in hot oil till brown. Drain on paper towels. 

Divide soup into 4 bowls.

Top with shishito peppers, Monterey Jack cheese and fried tortillas. 

All I need is big spoon as a big appetite is a given! Nothing warms the soul like a bowl of hot, crunchy, spicy soup. The stomach too!