Sunday, March 11, 2012

Corn & Chile Soup Made with Salsa Verde

In January of 2007, I took my first out-of-town trip with my now-husband, Travis. He was racing a Rock and Roll Marathon in Phoenix that conveniently fell during my law school winter break. I'd always wanted to visit Arizona, so I decided to tag along. A friend told us that while we were there we HAD to eat at a place called Richardson's, so on our last day we set out to have breakfast there. Because Travis was racing, we had been sticking to known quantities for most of our meals (understandably, you don't want to risk any stomach problems when you're about to run the length of a city). So I was really looking forward to getting an authentic Southwestern meal. 

As luck would have it, when we got to the restaurant, we discovered that Richardson's was closed during breakfast hours - briefly, my hopes of legit heuvos rancheros were dashed. (Though this was less disappointing than the time my parents and sister traveled from London to Paris for one day only, a Tuesday, to visit the Louvre. Painful news: the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. That smarts.) 

But wait, hold the phone, right around the side of Richardson's was a promising place called Dick's Hideaway. The latter part of the name is no joke - we were unsure whether we were even entering a restaurant. I can't really remember how we found it, because there certainly wasn't a big sign (if any sign at all). It might have been that a staff member in Richardson's directed us over there (as you might have guessed from the names, the two establishments are related). What I do remember is indulging in a deliciously saucy egg dish loaded with green chiles and salsa verde. Mexican-style salsa verde is made from tomatillos, chiles, lime, onion and cilantro. I freaking love it. I could drink the stuff.  
If it were up to me, I would order in food from Arizona or New Mexico every day. And every day it would include loads of chiles and salsa verde. But that's not an option. So instead I try to incorporate these ingredients in my cooking when I can. Exhibit A: this corn & chile soup made with salsa verde. Ideally, I would have used a fresh, homemade salsa verde, but I couldn't find tomatillos, so I used a pre-made salsa from a jar. Make do with your resources; you should be able to find jarred salsa verde in any grocery store.

Be aware that this soup is pretty spicy. One jalapeno may not seem like much, but it goes a long way when it has time to stew in a soup. If you have a low tolerance for heat in your food, use half a jalapeno. Also (forgive me if this is obvious), ground chili powder is not the same as ground cayenne pepper. This recipe calls for chili powder, which is cayenne pepper blended with other spices to reduce the heat. If you only have ground cayenne pepper available, it's okay to substitute, but cut the amount in half. 

Corn & Chile Soup w/Salsa Verde

Makes 6 large servings

2 tbs olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced as small as possible
4 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
2 tbs flour
2 14 oz cans corn (drained) or 28 oz frozen corn, 1 cup reserved
2 cans diced green chiles
2-3 roma tomatoes (or 1 beefsteak)
1/2 cup salsa verde
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup milk
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
salt & pepper

*Recommended: immersion blender.

Cook olive oil, diced onion, diced bell pepper and diced jalapeno in a large pot over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until the onion and pepper start to soften. Add garlic and cook for another few minutes, stirring often. Feel free to add more olive oil if the veggies start to stick or the garlic is browning too quickly.

Add flour and stir. Add corn (remember to leave 1 cup reserved), tomatoes, green chiles, salsa verde, vegetable stock, milk, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. 

Increase heat and bring soup to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Using an immersion blender, slowly blend soup to the desired consistency. Add reserved corn and heat for another 5 to 10 minutes. Soup will keep well in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Enjoy! And if you're ever in Phoenix, hit up Dick's Hideaway (or if you go to Richardson's, let me know what I missed).

Note: If you do not have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender, but be sure to: a) let the soup cool down awhile (just make sure it's not steamy); and b) be prepared to blend the soup in batches since a normal blender won't hold this entire recipe. Another option is to not blend the soup. This soup was looking pretty darn delicious in advance of blending and I'm sure would be terrific served as such.


  1. kt that first picture is crazy good!!

  2. I love your pics, too. But my favorite - and the one that made me say, "Gosh, that's impressive looking. I wonder if she'd give me some lessons." - is the one with the garlic. Not only can you cook, you're quite the photographer. Good job, lady!


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