Savoring the Flavor of Summer

This time of year, I always try to savor every bite of summer—tomatoes, corn, peppers, and fresh herbs. As the morning and evening chill begins to creep into our days, the summer produce fades from the farmer’s market. Thankfully, I remembered how good a bowl of piping hot roasted Poblano pepper and sweet corn soup tastes in the dead of winter. Before corn disappeared from the vendor’s table at the market, I bought a bounty, shucked it, cut the kernels off the cob, and froze it. The cobs are frozen, too. They will be used in the stock. I also took home a bag full of Poblano peppers, roasted them to charred perfection, removed the skins and seeds, and placed them in the freezer.

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Sometimes my occasional forethought amazes even me. I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I save summer flavors to enjoy in the winter. I haven’t quite found the time for canning and preserving, so I tend to stock the freezer with the remnants of the previous season. The pay off will come in February when I am stuck at home due to snow with nothing to do but make a pot of delicious corn soup and dream of summer.

Below is my recipe for Roasted Poblano Sweet Corn Soup in its entirety using fresh ingredients. If you don’t have a Vitamix, you can certainly use an immersion blender to puree the soup.   Enjoy!

Roasted Poblano Sweet Corn Soup

  • 10 ears of sweet corn – husks removed
  • 3 large Poblano peppers
  • 1 medium onion – halved and sliced
  • 4 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic – coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika – divided
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lime
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • crème fraiche or Mexican crema

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  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Cut the corn off the cobs. This should yield about 6-7 cups of kernels.
  3. Put the Poblano peppers on a baking sheet under the broiler for about 4-5 minutes per side or until the skins are blistered and charred. Place in an airtight container for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Place 5 of the corncobs in a stockpot with the vegetable stock and water. Bring to a simmer. Cover and continue to cook for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
  5. Peel the skins off of the peppers. Cut the top off each pepper and make a slit down the side to open the pepper. Removed the seeds and the membranes. Set aside.
  6. In a skillet, heat two tbs. olive oil. Sauté the onion over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. Add a generous pinch of salt. Add the garlic and continue to sauté for 2-3 more minutes.
  7. Add the spices to the onion/garlic mixture. Stir to incorporate. Add ½ cup of the vegetable stock to deglaze the pan. Pour this mixture into the Vitamix.
  8. Place the following ingredients into the Vitamix in this order: vegetable stock, 5 cups corn kernels, Poblano peppers, pinch of salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Process on the Hot Soup setting or turn up to setting 10 for 7 minutes.
  9. In a skillet, heat two tbs. olive oil. Sauté 1-2 cups of corn kernels over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add smoked paprika and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Use to garnish soup.
  10. Once the soup in the Vitamix is done processing, pour it into a saucepan to keep it warm. Add the juice of half a lime. Stir to combine.
  11. Serve topped with crème fraiche, sautéed corn kernels, and cilantro.

PepperFest: The Amazing Pepper Festival

Do you love peppers? I mean, really love them? Then put PepperFest on your 2015 calendar—you won’t want to miss this event. Early fall brings the end of the pepper harvest, and to celebrate this event, Abundance NC, the Briar Chapel community, and countless local chefs and food purveyors come together for PepperFest. This event has grown over the last seven years to become a destination for foodies, those who support sustainable living, and anyone who loves a creative dish made with peppers. PepperFest is located inside the Briar Chapel community of Chapel Hill. This community is a sanctuary for people who want sustainable, green living. Newland Communities has created a neighborhood that offers its residents amenities like nature trails, open spaces, community gardens, and a lifestyle that supports green living. Abundance NC, an organization with a mission to support “a North Carolina where people increasingly meet their needs locally and sustainably,” is the perfect partner for PepperFest.

Peppers for this event are harvested by local growers and supplied to chefs, breweries, coffee roasters, and more. These talented individuals create a recipe with their peppers, and festival-goers walk through sampling these delicious treats. Spicy peppers and sweet peppers made their way in to everything from beer and hot chocolate to soups and desserts.   PepperFest showcases chefs and restaurants that support farm-to-fork cuisine from around North Carolina.

Sustainability and green living were the themes woven throughout the festival. From Larry’s Beans Veggie bus (a mobile coffee shop run on used vegetable oil) to the compostable cups and plates, it was evident that PepperFest planners wanted to stay true to their mission. We were given one wooden spork at check-in and asked to use it more than once. I proudly surrendered mine to one of the many recycling bins at the end of the day. I like the thought of reducing waste through this small gesture, and I love that everyone participated.

PepperFest was a delicious way to celebrate the end of summer harvest. I will be back for more next year. I hope to see you there!

Spicy peppers were in abundance at PepperFest.

Spicy peppers were in abundance at PepperFest.

Chef Colin Bedford from Fearrington House Restaurant, looking cool in his shades, was serving up a delicious creation of Italian sausage, peppers, with a cornbread crouton.

Chef Colin Bedford from Fearrington House Restaurant, looking cool in his shades, was serving up a delicious creation of Italian sausage, peppers, with a cornbread crouton.

Always great to see Art (a.k.a. @RUWandering)!

Always great to see Art (a.k.a. @RUWandering)!

Craig from Crude Bitters and Sodas sharing his Evil Zerbert in addition to his amazing bitters and shrubs.

Craig from Crude Bitters and Sodas sharing his Evil Zerbert in addition to his amazing bitters and shrubs.

Vimala from Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe was all smiles.  Her pepper pickle was SPICY!

Vimala from Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe was all smiles. Her pepper pickle was SPICY!

Chef Regan Stachler from Little Hen in Holly Springs and his staff.

Chef Regan Stachler from Little Hen in Holly Springs and his staff.

This is what is it all about! #EatLocal

The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association was there.  This is what is it all about! #EatLocal

Chef Jay Piere from Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen sampled out an amazing soup with smoked pumpkin.  Spicy goodness!

Chef Jay Pierce from Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen sampled out an amazing soup with smoked pumpkin. Spicy goodness!