Wednesday, September 8, 2010

tuesday - corn and poblano soup with wheat berry and vegetable salad

Last night was my first time making both of these recipes, and they both turned out really well. I omitted the heavy cream from this corn soup recipe from realsimple.com, and it still turned out creamy and delicious. If you're pressed for time, you could use a can of green chiles instead of roasting and peeling the poblano pepper; alternatively, you could skip the poblano puree altogether and the soup would still be good. It could easily be made vegetarian by using veggie broth instead of chicken broth, and could be made vegan by omitting the butter. The original recipe states it makes 4 servings, but I think it easily could serve 6 as I have plenty of leftovers.

I made several minor changes to this grain & vegetable salad recipe from The Oregonian, our local newspaper. I used wheat berries instead of farro; they're similar grains but wheat berries are easier for me to find. You could use brown rice or another whole grain depending on what you have on hand. Since I already had the broiler on to roast the poblano for the soup, I broiled the asparagus and squash rather than blanching them as I think this gives the vegetables a better flavor. I reduced the bacon by about half and I felt like the dish still had plenty of bacony flavor. The bacon could be left out altogether to make the dish vegetarian; crumbled goat cheese or shaved Parmesan would both be good additions in its place. Finally, I used sherry vinegar instead of champagne vinegar, and I think other types of vinegar--particularly cider or red wine--would work well also.



Corn and Poblano Soup

1 poblano pepper
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
Fresh corn kernels from 10 ears of corn (about 5 cups)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)

Heat broiler. On a broilerproof baking sheet, broil the pepper, turning occasionally, until charred, 8 to 12 minutes. Seal in a plastic bag to steam for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and seeds from pepper. In a blender, puree the pepper with 2 tablespoons of the chicken broth; transfer to a bowl. Rinse out the blender.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (do not let it brown), 8 to 10 minutes. Add the corn, the remaining chicken broth, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the corn is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

In the blender, working in batches, puree the soup until smooth. (Alternatively, use a handheld immersion blender in the pot.)

Serve the soup with a drizzle of the poblano puree; sprinkle with the cilantro, if using.
 
Makes 6 servings.
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Wheat Berry and Vegetable Salad
 
3/4 cup uncooked wheat berries
1 pound sliced asparagus, cut on the bias into 1 1/2-inch lengths
3 medium pattypan squash, sliced and cut into quarters
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces bacon (preferably applewood-smoked & uncured)
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
 
Add wheat berries to a large pot of boiling salted water. Lower heat to allow to simmer until tender, about 50 to 60 minutes. Wheat berries should be slightly chewy. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
 
Heat broiler. Spread the asparagus and squash on a broilerproof baking sheet. Spray lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil the vegetables until tender and lightly browned, turning once, about 8 minutes. 
 
In a skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove to a plate covered with paper towels. Gently blot with more paper towels to remove excess fat. Crumble bacon into small pieces.
 
Make a vinaigrette by whisking together the vinegar, olive oil, and sugar.
 
In a large serving bowl, toss together the wheat berries, asparagus, squash, bacon, and vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for 1 hour to allow flavors to meld. Serve at room temperature.
 
Makes 6 servings.
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