Cream of Jalapeno Soup
chop 3 jalapenos, discarding ribs/seeds as desired to control heat (I use seeds from 1 jalapeno only)
chop 1 small or 1/2 large yellow onion
chop or grate 1 carrot
In a 3-quart pot (or larger) saute these veggies over med/hi heat in 2 T of EVOO or unsalted butter until soft, about 4 or 5 min. Add a chopped clove of garlic if desired.
add 2 TBSP flour to veggies and stir to thicken the olive oil (make a roux)
3-1/2 c. water
1 14.5 oz can chicken stock
Remove the pot from heat and add the water and chicken stock, stirring constantly. Put the pot back onto heat and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
Strain the soup and reserve the liquid. Puree the vegetables in a food processor or blender and add to the soup liquid. Place all back in the pot and stir well; if you are not ready to complete the soup at this point you can chill and freeze it or continue to simmer for a short while longer - 10 minutes or so.
Remove the simmering pot from heat. Stir in:
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 tsp salt (add to taste)
2 TBSP freshly chopped cilantro
stir well to blend half-and-half with pureed stock.
Right before serving, add 1 to 1-1/2 cups shredded cheese (colby/jack blend or monterrey jack is recommended) and stir until smooth.
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Personal notes - this soup starts out delicate; its smooth in the mouth and leaves a surprising kiss of heat as you eat it. It should not be so hot as to scorch your taste buds and throat.
Of course you can use this same method to make cream of mushroom, subbing mushrooms for the jalapenos. Or add some mushrooms to the jal mixture. Or add a small handful of chopped veggies (after pureeing most of them) if you want some texture. Or add a chopped cooked chicken breast after adding the half-and-half, being sure to heat through without boiling.
It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato. ~Lewis Grizzard