Saturday, October 29, 2005

Improvising, Part II


I'm a sucker for fresh produce from the mercado, I often buy more than we can consume in a few days. So it was that we are preparing to be away from home for an extended period, yet we had on hand potatoes, two chiles Poblanos and an awful lot of fresh cilantro.

My wife urged me to make Sopa Crema de Cilantro, a truly wonderful soup that we'd first eaten in the restaurant of the then Hotel Las Brisas, in San Blas, Nayarit, many years ago. (I think that the restaurant was called "El Delfín" , and the Chef was Betty Vásquez.)

The following is more a descriptive guide to making my interpretation of this soup, not at all a strict recipe.
(Previously posted on The Lonelyplanet.com Thorn Tree Forum, Get Stuffed Branch.)

Sopa Crema de Cilantro
serves 6 +

Roast over an open flame 2-3 fresh Chiles Poblanos until the skin blackens. Set aside in a bag until you can remove the skins, seeds and stems.
Roast 1/2 white onion. Cool and remove blackened areas. Cut in chunks for easy blending.

Prepare the cilantro by washing and, if necessary, disinfecting. Remove and discard the stems. Pat dry in a kitchen towel. The quantity used is approximately equal to 6-8 bunches raw, as typically sold in US supermarkets.

Meanwhile, cook 3 medium white potatoes in salted water, until tender. Drain but reserve the cooking water up to the quantity of 2 liters.

Next, melt 6 TBSPS butter in a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan. Stir in 6 TBSPS of plain flour to make a light colored roux.
Add approximately 6 cups of milk, and one largish can of evaporated milk, whisking frequently to blend well.
Add 3 TBSPS of Knorr Suiza Caldo de Pollo ( A relatively high quality chicken stock base powder.) and a little black pepper.

When the potatoes are tender, peel and section. Place the onion piece and a good handful of cilantro in a heavy duty blender (liquidiser) and a little reserved potato water. Do not fill more than halfway! Blend, pulsing, then steadily until finely liquidised. Add to the white sauce in the pot. Continue with the peeled chiles, the cilantro and potato as needed to thicken the soup to a medium creamy consistency. Try not to overcook the cilantro, but cook long enough to remove any "grassy" taste.

(You'll need to use your own judgement as to how to balance the liquid with the white sauce/potato thickener.)

Taste for seasoning. I added a pinch of smoked Pimentón de la Vera paprika and about 1/4 cup of Fino Sherry. (Thus crossing the boundary from Mexican to Spanish cuisine, I suppose.)

Served with crudites plates and packaged tostadas and "crema" to accompany the soup.

1 comment:

a rose is a rose said...

wow, this sounds WONDERFUL! i'm vegan so i will have to improvise, i.e. margarine instead of butter, water, vegetable stock or soy milk instead of milk. i can't wait to try it though!