The chilled chile & almond soup has been a favorite around here for over a decade – a star of a cold soup that’s hot, smoky, and nutty. If fact, I entered it in a contest at the Los Angeles County Fair years ago, and it won second place. I’ve updated the soup recipe, now using fat luscious Spanish Marcona almonds and Spanish Amontillado sherry that has a whisper of sweetness. The basic soup can be simply garnished with a drizzle of Mexican crema and a few cilantro leaves. Or for entertaining, go all out and add sweet bay shrimp, roasted corn, freshly fried corn tortilla strips, chopped Marcona almonds, and a splash of toasted almond oil – your guests will surely be delighted.
“Spanish Influence” Chilled Soup
with Fire-Roasted Chiles, Marcona Almond, Amontillado Sherry RECIPE
Char the skins of about a pound of chiles over an open flame. Poblano, Anaheim, New Mexico, and Hatch chiles all work well. Depending on what is in season and preference for the degree of heat, you can use a combination of these chiles. Anaheim chiles are milder, Hatch chiles can be very hot, Poblano somewhere in between.
Place peppers in a large bowl and cover with a towel. Once cool, remove the skin, seeds, and membranes. Rough chop the peppers.
Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan, add 3 crushed garlic cloves, then add the chopped peppers. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Let cool completely.
Meanwhile, puree 4 oz. roasted/salted Marcona almonds with 1 c. chicken stock in a blender. (A food processor does not work as well, as the almonds need to be completely pureed). Add peppers and one more cup of chicken stock. Puree until smooth, adding more stock if necessary to get the perfect soup consistency. Add salt to taste and finish with 2 T. dry Spanish sherry. Chill.
Roast corn on BBQ until charred, turning occasionally. Let cool then slice the kernels off the husk.
Cut corn tortillas into thin strips and fry in canola oil until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels, season with salt while hot.
To serve: Ladle cold soup into chilled bowls. Make a loose nest with tortilla strips, surround with bay shrimp and corn kernels. Sprinkle with chopped Marcona almonds. Drizzle with a bit of almond oil then finish with a few sprigs of cilantro.
In addition to the bold flavors and pizzazzy presentation, this soup is gluten-free and dairy-free – so it is great for entertaining a large group. It can easily be made vegetarian/vegan by omitting the shrimp and substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock.
Creative Cooking Crew
The Creative Cooking Crew is a group of innovative food bloggers hosted by Laz of Lazaro Cooks! and Joan of FOODalogue. Each month brings a new culinary challenge with a round-up of all the entries posted at the end of the month. Although there is no real judging and the challenges are all just for fun, we take pride in sharing our entries, pushing our culinary limits.
May’s Challenge is BBQ to which I am bringing my “Spanish Influence” Fire-Roasted Chile Soup. Laz is showcasing all the grilled dishes in a round-up on his blog here.
Lustau Amontillado Sherry
For extra points, pair this course with a glass of chilled Amontillado sherry. We like Lustau. It is a classic Amontillado, with a touch of sweetness, well-balanced and prominent in both character and age. Amber in color with golden hues. Aromas of ripened fruit, with hints of wood and raisins. It offers a beautiful fruity contrast to the chile and harmony with the almonds, while highlighting the small amount of sherry that is in the soup. Amontillado’s strong character is not overwhelmed by the soup’s gutsy flavors – they are a happy couple…