This roasted hatch chile soup showcases the iconic New Mexico chile pepper in a creamy, spicy blend suitable for any Southwestern-style meal.
The “Hatch” chile, or New Mexico chile, is any of a specific group of pepper cultivars developed over the past century and grown in the Rio Grande Valley around the town of Hatch, New Mexico. It has achieved somewhat of a iconic, pop-culture success being integral to modern cuisines of the American Southwest and northern Mexico, especially that of its indigenous state. Aficionados claim those peppers actually grown in the terrior of the immediate Hatch region to have the best flavor.
The chiles themselves are green and ripen to a red with heat levels that depend on the specific varietal. Hatch chiles are prized more for their flavor than their inherent moderate heat, no hotter than a strong serrano or cayenne chile at the extreme end or as mild as a sweet bell pepper at the other. A milder related pepper is named the Anaheim chile as its seeds were initially brought to Anaheim, California, for cultivation and farming.
Roasting the chiles (best done at point of sale) increases the depth of their smokey, peppery flavor while also softening the flesh. Commercial vendors use a large metal cage that rotates over a propane flame grill that ensures an even roast over all sides as well as providing plenty of aromatics for passing customers. Although not as dramatic, Hatch chiles can be roasted at home under a kitchen broiler (horno) with the same effect.
Instead of dairy or a roux to tame the heat and thicken the soup, simply the natural fat of a ripe avocado is all that is used here to add a satisfying creamy texture in the final purée. A combination of hot and mild chiles can be included to adjust the heat level for personal preference.
Garnish with fried tortilla strips and grated cheese.
Roasted Hatch Chile Soup
4 Hatch chiles
2 cloves of garlic
4 c chicken stock
½ t cumin
1 Roast the chiles under the broiler until blistered, about 5-10 min per side. When cooled, remove stems and seeds (and skins, if desired).
2 Chop the onion, carrot and garlic and sauté in oil until soft, about 10 min. Chop the chiles and add along with cumin, and season to taste.
3 Add the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 min.
4 Add the avocado and cilantro, and purée in batches until smooth.