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from Love Soup, pp. 70-71.

Oh, the weather is gloriously, snuggily foul. Rain descending in sheets, wind gusts between 40 and 50 miles per hour, and I’m nearly recovered from the flu but not so much that I can’t luxuriate under a thick throw on the couch. It’s the perfect weather for soup.

One of my dearest friends gave me a new cookbook of vegetarian soups whose title, I must admit, struck me as so saccharine that I didn’t look through it until the flu imposed on me time to read idly. Anna Thomas has collected 160 soup recipes, of which I counted over 20 that I intend to make. The recipes embody creative and bold combinations of flavors unusual, in my experience, in vegetarian cooking. Even the variety of vegetables broths seem feasibly flavorful. I admit I cheated, though. Instead of using a vegetable broth here, I pulled out of the freezer one of the bigger tubs of frozen chicken stock. It had the predictable effect of enriching the flavor at the expense of poultry’s lives. The only other change I made was to substitute fresh pasillas for the poblanos, since this week that was all I could find in the stores. More fiery than the poblanos but still edible for a capiscum-wimp like myself.

Serves 6

about 6 fresh poblano chiles (1 1/2 lbs; 700 g)

Shadowcook: As I wrote above, I used fresh pasillas, which are hotter than poblanos. I also saw fresh Anaheim chiles in the market, but regardless of the heat they would be a sacrifice in color.

1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter

1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil

2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped (1 lb; 450 g)

1 clove garlic, minced

sea salt

6 cups (1 1/2 liters) basic light vegetable broth

Shadowcook: Or chicken broth dare I say.

1/2 cup (20 g) chopped cilantro

5 or 6 fresh epazote leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried crumbled epazote

Shadowcook: Not surprisingly, the only place I found this was in my local Latino mercado in the produce section. Wikipedia has a little article on it.

4 oz (120 g) creamy white goat cheese

3 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts

Roast the chiles under a broiler, in a dry skillet over high heat, or on a charcoal grill, turning them from time to time until the skin is charred and blistered all over. Place them in a paper bag for about 10 minutes to let them sweat and then peel off the skins and remove the stems and seeds. cut the peeled chiles into strips; you should have about 1 1/2 cups of peeled poblano strips.

In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the butter and olive oil and sauté the onions, stirring often, until they are translucent. Add the minced garlic and some salt and cook over low heat, stirring often, until the onions are golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

When the onions and garlic are very soft, combine them in a soup pot with the chile strips, broth, cilantro, and epazote. Cover the pot and simmer everything for about 20 minutes, then puree in a blender, in batches, or with an immersion blender until the soup is perfectly smoooth.

Shadowcook: Yes, well, my blender got a little excited, even though the container was less than halfway filled. As the soup finished up on the stove, I was wiping down my kitchen wals and counters. Lots of liquid. Be careful.

Add the goat cheese to the pureed soup, stirring over low heat until the cheese has melted into the soup. Taste, and correct the seasoning with a pinch more salt if needed.

Shadowcook: Oddly, I thought the soup needed a lot more salt. Add the salt slowly, but don’t be surprised if it absorbs quite a bit more than the recipe calls for.

Serve the soup hot, with lightly toasted pine nuts scattered over each bowl. Because of its deep, intense flavor and spicy edge, this soup is best served in smaller portions as a first course — although people may ask for more.

Shadowcook: And pass around the kleenex for mopping the brow… But absolutely worth it.