creamy corn soup with ham and roasted poblanos

creamy corn soup with ham and roasted poblanos

The next recipe in the lineup from our week-long celebration of Rick Bayless is a wonderful, creamy corn soup.  In the recipe, Bayless says that you can use either chicken or ham and ham just seemed like an obvious choice to me.  Of course chicken would work wonderfully, but I really liked the idea of some yummy, well-seasoned ham with the mellower corn flavor.

fire roasted poblano

My favorite part of this soup, however, is not the ham, it’s the poblano chile.  It gives the soup a lovely mild spice that hits at the back of your tongue.  You roast the chile first, giving it a smoky kick. Spice-phobes need not be afraid – it has a very mild kick.

cubed ham

The ham isn’t particularly healthy, but there’s not that much and this soup recipe is much healthier than a more traditional corn chowder.  The soup is thickened with corn starch and uses milk instead of cream (we used 1% and it worked well).  I also learned from Joseph that since calcium is a mineral and cooking doesn’t alter minerals, it still has all the calcium content as if you had just chugged all that milk instead of putting it in the soup.  I’m not a huge fan of a lot of healthy dairy products like milk and yogurt (ice cream and brie, on the other hand, are a completely different story) and I know I don’t get enough calcium most days so I felt totally validated eating this soup.  Veggies and calcium!

ham and poblano chiles in corn soup

I wasn’t quite sure what to serve with the soup.  A salad would obviously go nicely, but I was looking for a bread.  My first thought was cornbread, but that just seemed like way too much corn to me.  We ended up making an old-fashioned sesame-wheat bread in the bread machine.  The toasty flavor from the sesame seeds played nicely off of the smoky roasted poblano in the soup.

creamy corn soup with ham

Creamy Corn Soup with Ham and Poblanos

Adapted from Everyday Mexican

Serves 4
1 large fresh poblano chile
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 small white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 cups corn kernels, cut from about 5 cobs or frozen
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 quart milk, divided
7-8 oz ham
Salt to taste
Cilantro for garnish
Roast the poblano directly on the open flame of a stovetop, turning frequently until blackend, about 5 minutes.  You can also do this under a broiler, which will take about 10 minutes and you will have to keep opening it up to turn the pepper.   Wrap with aluminum foil or a kitchen towel until cool enough to handle.
In the meantime, heat the oil over medium heat in a 3-quart saucepan and add the garlic and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden. Transfer the garlic and onions to a food processor along with the corn, cornstarch, and 1 1/2 cups of the milk and purée.  Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan, straining out the corn kernel skins if desired. Personally I think it’s completely unnecessary.  Bring to a simmer, whisking frequently.
When the chile is cool enough to handle, rub off the blackened skins, pull out the stem and seeds, and rinse to get rid any remaining seeds and blackened skins.  Cut the chile into 1/4-inch strips or pieces, then stir into the simmering soup along with the ham and the remaining milk. Simmer until the ham and chiles are completely heated through. Serve with sprinkled cilantro.
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