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Green Mexican Corn Chowder

This soup is not only a beautiful color of bright green but the flavor will blow your mind. You get the sweetness from the corn, backed up by richness of the cream, combined with the fresh tartness of the tomatillo and the heat from the poblano, your tongue is going to think it’s died and gone to heaven. Tomatillos are a Mexican cousin to the tomato, but green and come with a papery husk over top of them. They can ripen to a yellow color but for this recipe you are looking for some green firm fellas, and the paper around them should be pretty fitted, not too loose. You can find them in some specialty grocers and of course Latin American grocers. Poblano peppers look like a big darker green cousin to the jalapeño pepper, usually about 2 inches wide and 5 inches long. They have a rich heat that can vary from pepper to pepper, but in the grand scheme of hot peppers they are mild to medium in heat. Look for healthy looking peppers, firm to touch and blemish free. If you can’t find Poblanos anywhere, you can sub in two jalapeños instead.
Serves 6, level of difficulty - moderate

2 Tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil
1 lb (454g) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 medium white onion, chopped medium dice
1 Tablespoon (15ml) garlic, minced
1 large fresh poblano chili, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
2 cups (500ml) corn kernels, cooked and cut from the husk or defrosted
3 ½ cups (875ml) low sodium chicken stock
½ cup (125ml) 35% heavy cream
½ cup (125ml) fresh cilantro, washed, leaves only, stalks removed, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat a large cast iron, or heavy bottomed skillet over high heat. Add half of the vegetable oil.

2. Cut the tomatillos in half from top to bottom and lay them cut side down in the hot skillet. Your going to cook them until the tomatillos have a deep golden brown color, then you’re going to flip and roast them on the other side for about 5 minutes. Take them out of the skillet and put them in a bowl to cool slightly.

3. Set a large saucepan over medium heat, add the rest of the oil and heat it up for about 30 seconds. Add the onion, garlic and poblano pepper. Cook until tender but not browned, about 5 minutes or so. Pull them from the heat.

4. In a food processor, puree the onion mixture, the tomatillos and 1 cup (250ml) of the corn until it’s smooth. Slowly add ½ cup (125ml) of the chicken broth to the mixture to thin it out.

5. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and into a large pot. With the back of a spoon push down on the solids to help move it through. Set the pot over medium heat and stir in the remaining chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and add the cream and the chopped cilantro. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

6. Ladle the warm soup into 6 bowls and serve.

Wine Match – Sauvignon Blanc

When we were shooting the tv show This Food That Wine, this pairing became one of our favorites, because the Sauvignon Blanc complemented the dish in so many ways. The chowder is rich and creamy in texture and although the wine is just medium in body, it stands up to it nicely and more importantly, the crisp acidity of the wine cleanses the palate after the richness of the soup. The ripe, tropical flavors of a new world Sauvignon Blanc (go for New Zealand) cool the heat of the spice while complementing the sweet corn.

This recipe and wine pairing is from the book: This Food That Wine, a cookbook and wine guide available in stores across Canada.

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