My sister in law got confirmed last year and after confirmation we went out to lunch at Barrio to celebrate. Most of us tried a variety of their street tacos but I also got a bowl of their Fresh Corn Chowder which they describe as “fresh corn soup is served with roasted corn and roasted poblano peppers and garnished with queso fresco and cilantro.” What’s not to like with that description? And it was amazing! So amazing that my husband who does not like and will not eat soup, tried a bite of my chowder. And then another bite. And another. Now he didn’t eat the whole bowl but he did go back for more. After that I knew I had to try to make this at home.
There must have been some magic going on at Barrio because my husband wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic about my version but I really liked it. The soup gets it’s creaminess from pureed corn, milk, and a little cornstarch that’s added to sautéed onions and garlic. Finally we add a fresh roasted poblano pepper and of course some fresh corn kernels that we stripped off the cop. The garnish is a cilantro oil that packs a nice flavor punch by pureeing equal amounts of cilantro and olive oil. But the star of the show in the soup is the fresh sweet corn flavor.
This soup makes a really good side dish – if you wanted to turn it into a main dish, I’d recommend stirring in some shredded rotisserie chicken although at that point it will divert from the simple corn chowder we had at Barrio.
Here’s what you need:
Start by roasting the poblano. If you have a gas stove, you can do this right over the open flame. Turn the flame on high and turn periodically until it’s charred all over. This takes between 8-10 minutes. You can also use a broiler if you don’t have a gas stove.
Now the most important piece is to get it into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. This will allow the skin to steam and in about 10 to 15 minutes you’ll be able to peel the skin off. A paper towl works well to scrape the blackened parts off (although you don’t have to scrape them all, a little bit adds a lot of flavor).
Once the pepper is peeled, remove the seeds and then chop.
While the pepper is steaming, chop some onion and garlic.
Now heat a tablespoon of oil in a soup pot and throw in the onion and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.
Strip the corn off the cobs. I love this little corn stripper because it catches the kernels instead of letting them fly all over the place, but feel free to use a chef’s knife too. It took me 5 ears of corn to get about 4 cups of kernels.
Reserve a cup of the corn kernels and toss the rest in the blender along with the onion and garlic, a cup and a half of milk and some corn starch. Blend.
Now because Barrio’s soup was a really smooth consistency, I decided to strain the corn mixture back into the pot using cheesecloth and a wire strainer.
Add the rest of your quart of milk and bring to a simmer.
Add the chopped, roasted poblanos.
Simmer for 10 minutes to allow the poblano flavor to penetrate the soup. Taste and season with salt.
Right before serving stir in the reserved corn kernels (I forgot to include this in my picture). The corn will warm in the hot soup but will stay nice and fresh. I don’t like to cook it in the soup long because I wanted it to taste fresh off the cob.
Blend equal amounts cilantro and olive oil in a blender. Drizzle just a splash over the soup when serving. The cilantro will add a bright, fresh flavor.
- 1 large poblano chili
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 small sweet onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 ears of corn
- 1 T cornstarch
- 1 quart 2% milk
- Salt to taste
- ¼ c fresh cilantro
- ¼ c olive oil
- Place the poblano chili directly over a gas burner on high, or under the broiler. Turn as each side blackens, it will take about 8-10 minutes total. Remove poblano from the heat and place in a bowl, then cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to steam for 15 minutes. Rub off the blackened skin with a paper towel. Remove seeds and chop into pieces.
- Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for about 3 minutes until the onion is translucent.
- Strip the corn kernels from the cobs. Reserve 1 cup.
- In a blender place corn kernels, except reserved cup, onion and garlic, corn starch and 1 ½ cups of milk. Blend until smooth.
- Strain through a mesh strainer and cheesecloth directly back into the pot. Stir in the remaining milk and bring to a simmer.
- Add the roasted poblanos and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and add salt as desired.
- Stir in reserved corn kernels right before serving.
- In a single serve blender or mini food processor, process the cilantro and quarter cup of olive oil. Drizzle over individual bowls of the corn soup.