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Sopa de Elote (Corn Soup)

A corn-bisque flavored with mild poblano chiles--this exquisitely rich dish manages to be sophisticated and earthy at the same time.

  • 4 T. unsalted butter 
  • 3/4 c. chopped white onions 
  • 1 lb. frozen sweet corn, thawed, or 2 3/4 c. fresh corn kernels 
  • 1/3 c. chicken broth 
  • 2 1/4 c. milk 
  • 3/4 c. whipping cream 
  • 1/4 c. roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped poblano chiles 
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped tomato 
  • 1 tsp. salt, or to taste 
  • 1/8 tsp. white or black pepper 
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 11/2 tsp. water 
  • 1/2 c. crumbled queso fresco, or 1/2 c. coarsely chopped Muenster cheese 
  • 3 corn tortillas (preferably red), cut into 1/8-inch strips, fried until crisp, and drained well Cilantro leaves (optional) 

Melt 1 T. butter over medium heat, add onions, and cook 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until onions are soft but not browned; place mixture in a blender. Reserve 1/4 c. corn, and add remainder of corn and chicken broth to blender; process on high for 2 minutes. Strain blender contents through the fine blade of a food mill or push through a strainer; set aside purée. 

Melt remaining 3 T. butter in a 3-qt. pot over medium heat, add puréed corn and onions, and cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly to keep mixture from scorching. The mixture will thicken considerably. Slowly stir in milk and cream, then add chiles, tomato, salt, and pepper, and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring often to keep mixture from sticking to the pot and scorching. Add dissolved cornstarch, and continue simmering and stirring for 5 minutes. Ladle soup into 4 bowls, and top with cheese, reserved corn, fried tortilla strips, and cilantro (if using). Yield: 1 quart (4 appetizer servings or 2 entrée servings).

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