Right before I left Nashville, I won this soup competition for Our Kids charity. (http://ourkidscenter.com/news/2012-soup-sunday-huge-success/) Which was pretty fucking cool. 47 other local restaurants competed, and it is such an awesome, awesome cause. As someone who has dealt with those issues before, I was happiest about being able to support them in any capacity. That being said, I was psyched about winning. To beat out so many other talented chefs, many of whom I really admire, is awesome. To do so based on the decision of judges you really respect and look up to is even cooler.
Anyway, here is the recipe as it stood. There are a few notes on potential changes and ideas at the bottom. Keep in mind this was made in a commercial restaurant, so adjust accordingly at home.
Roasted Corn and Chipotle Bisque-
Corn, whole ears – 20 large, cleaned but not husked.
Olive Oil – 1/2 c
Kosher or Sea Salt – 2 Tbsp
Black Pepper, coarse grind – 2 Tbsp
Peel the husks of the corn down, but do not remove. Clean silk, replace husk, lather ears up in oil, salt and pepper. Heat grill to medium heat (in a perfect world, it’d be a wood burning grill, but gas/charcoal works too). Cook corn, turning often, until husks are blackened but not burnt.
Alternately, you can heat oven to 300 and roast ears for apx 20 mins. I like the smoky/grill flavor a real grill adds, but an oven works too.
Peel ears, cut corn off cobs. Reserve corn cobs.
Roasted Corn, kernels – 1 c
Celery, diced – 2 c
Carrots, diced – 2 c
White Onion, diced – 4 c
Fresh, Raw Garlic, minced – 1/2 c
Roasted Garlic, Whole – 8 ea
Chipotle Peppers, in adobo – 2 cans
Potatoes, Idaho, peeled and diced – 8 large
Paprika, Smoked – 3 Tbsp
Kosher or Sea Salt – TT
White Pepper – TT
Oil, Canola – 1/2 c
Shrimp Base (Minors) – 1#
Tomato Paste – 1 small can
Boil potatoes until cooked through. Drain, reserving 1/4 c of cooking liquid
In a separate soup pot, heat oil. Cook mirepoix apx. 6 mins over medium-high heat. Add all remaining ingredients, including potato cooking liquid, and bring to a simmer. Then add:
Heavy Cream – 2 qts
Stir in cream, remove from heat. With an emulsion mixer, puree all ingredients. Return to stove. Add:
Milk, whole – 4 ga
Corn cobs from above – 20 ea
Bay Leaf, dried – 4 ea
Bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low.
Pass through increasingly smaller strainers until consistency is smooth. (for the contest, I strained it 8 times through 3 different strainers)
Return to heat, adding:
Crab Meat, claw – 3#
Crab Meat, lump – 3#
Roasted Corn, kernels – All remaining
Return to simmer. Remove from heat. Serve immediately
Cool. Skim well before re-heating for service.
Mangoes, diced – 10 medium
Lime, zest – 1/4 c
Lime, juice – 1 whole
Chives, minced – 1/2 c
Kosher or Sea Salt – TT
Optional – Toasted pepitas or pumpkin seeds. (for a composed dish, I would have included these in the garnish, however at the competition we served in 2oz portion cups and the seeds, even one, would have over-powered the soup)
This soup should be spicy, smoky, and slightly sweet. The acidity of the garnish should cut through some of the milk/cream and allow the flavor of the crab and corn through. Although most people (myself included) always default to using lemon with seafood, I thought lime was more appropriate with the other flavors, namely the mango and chipotle.
Things I thought about doing or will do next time-
- Using a little sherry or even dark rum for even more depth.
- Introducing a “creamy” element to the garnish…think sour cream or, more likely, creme fraiche. I thought about making mango creme fraiche, and long strands of chive in a fine dining setting.
- I would have used leeks as an additional component of my mirepoix, but the produce company was out (?!?!?!)
- Instead of a roux or slurry, I chose to sacrifice thickening power but add flavor by using the potatoes starch to thicken slightly during reduction. However, if being held hot over a long period (ours was in a chafing dish for 4 hours), it will start to separate slightly.
- I would probably toast the seeds with some cumin/paprika/corriander/salt and drizzle lightly with molasses.
- If you can swing it (we couldn’t) I’d use some real shellfish stock or demi instead of base. Maybe cook some shrimp shells with the mirepoix and puree the whole fucking thing? Let them steep with the corn cobs after adding the rest of the milk? Fuck, I dunno.
- Feel free to church it up and use lobster instead of crab. I won’t be mad. Just envious.
Disclaimer- I post these recipes for people to try/critique/get inspired by. Please feel free to recreate and use, but give credit where it’s due. When your family, friends, and customers are raving about this or that, just be sure to tell them the guy on the blog inspired you.
I’ll tell the story about the event itself (which was awesome, except for the hangover) and the night before (which led to the previous mentioned issue) in a forthcoming post.