Spicy Corn Soup

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On April 12 at the Hotel Santa Fe, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) is hosting A Celebration of Native Food and Wine, a first-of-its-kind dinner featuring the culinary talents of four acclaimed Native American chefs paired with the wines of Fire Mountain Wines, founded and helmed by Jamie Fullmer (Yavapai-Apache Nation). The four-course dinner of contemporary Native foods will be prepared by Jack Strong (Siletz), Nephi Craig (White Mountain Apache/Navajo), Walter Whitewater (Navajo), and Lois Ellen Frank (Kiowa).

We can think of no more fitting way to conclude our Homestead Issue than with these stories and recipes from the descendants of the original homesteaders of our beloved southwest. 

With Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Chipotle Chile Purée

“There is nothing like the taste of fresh sweet corn,” says Lois Ellen Frank, describing the soup that Walter Whitewater is preparing for the SWAIA dinner. “I usually make this soup from fresh corn during the warm weather months and at harvest time when corn is at its sweetest, but it can be made at any time of the year with organic, frozen sweet corn. Its spicy flavor comes from New Mexico red chile powder and chipotle chile powder. Chipotles are jalapeños that have been dried and then smoked. This medium-size, thick-fleshed chile is smoky and sweet and has a subtle, deep, rounded heat. In Santa Fe, local farmers sell fresh freshly ground New Mexico red and chipotle chile powder.”

4 ears of corn, kernels scraped from the cob, or 3 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)

1 yellow onion, diced

1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped

½ teaspoon dried chipotle chile powder

1 teaspoon New Mexico red chile powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

6 cups vegetable stock

1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced

Prepare the corn by cutting the kernels from the cob. You should have approximately 3 cups of corn kernels from 4 cobs. Save the corncobs and set aside. The cobs will add additional corn flavor to the soup. If using frozen corn, use 3 cups of corn kernels.

In a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat, add ¼ cup of the vegetables stock and then add the onions. Sauté the onions for 3 to 4 minutes until they are translucent, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Add the garlic and chipotle chile powder and sauté for 1 more minute. If your pan is too dry, add another ¼ cup of the vegetables stock. Add the corn kernels and sauté for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the salt, black pepper and the stock and bring to a boil. (If you have cut your corn fresh from the cob, place the reserved cobs into the saucepan at this time.) Once the mixture has boiled, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the corn kernels from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan.

While the corn soup is simmering, roast the red bell pepper using the open flame method, then peel, seed and dice it. Place the diced bell pepper into a blender with the chipotle chile powder and the New Mexico red chile powder. Blend thoroughly for 1 minute. Pour through a fine sieve and discard the contents of the sieve. Pour the red bell pepper sauce into a plastic squirt bottle and set aside.

Remove the corn soup mixture from the heat, discard the corncobs and set aside. Place the corn soup mixture in a blender and purée for 3 minutes. Pour the mixture through a sieve and discard the contents of the sieve. Return the mixture to a saucepan, and heat over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Pour into bowls, garnish with some of the red pepper sauce and serve immediately.

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