Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chile Bisque

I have a passion for any kind of hot and spicy food. Say the words "hot and spicy" and I'm totally on board. I was beyond excited when I saw this recipe for Chile Bisque while paging through my copy of Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. An entire soup made out of chile peppers? How come I had never heard of this before? I bookmarked this recipe right away and knew that I had to try it ASAP!

The bisque consists of 6 ancho chiles, 1 chipotle chile, olive oil, garlic, long-grain rice, veggie stock, bay leaves, and cream. The recipe is a tad bit time-consuming, mostly because the chiles need to soak for at least an hour. However, once you have soaked the chiles, everything comes together pretty quickly.

Chile Bisque
Adapted by HTCEV by Mark Bittman
*Serves 4 (easily serves 6-8)
5 or 6 (3 ounces) dried ancho chiles
1 chipotle chile, dried or canned (don't use too much of the adobo if canned)
2 tablespoons EVVO
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup medium or long-grained rice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 quart vegetable stock or water
2 bay leaves
1 cup cream
Put a skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Toast the dried chiles until darkened slightly and fragrant, about 2 minutes per side. If you're using canned chipotle, set it aside for later. Put the dried chiles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Use a plate to keep them submerged if necessary. Let the chiles soak until soft, an hour or so.

After the chiles have been soaking for about 30 minutes, put the oil in a deep skillet or medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until soft, about a minute. Add the canned chipotle, if you're using it, and the rice and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue cooking and stirring until the rice starts to turn translucent, about 2 minutes more.

Add the stock and the bay leaves and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so that soup bubbles gently, cover, and cook undisturbed until the rice is very tender, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat.

When the chiles are soft, drain them, carefully remove their stems and seeds, and add them to the soup pot. Fish out the bay leaves. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pan. Or cool the mixture slightly (hot soup is dangerous), pass it through a food mill or pour it into a blender, and puree carefully. (The soup may be made ahead to this point, cooled, and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat it gently). Add the cream and turn the heat under the pot to medium. Gently reheat the soup until hot but not boiling. Cook, uncovered, for another 3 - 5 minutes, until slightly thickened (if it's too thick, add a little water or stock). Taste, adjust the seasoning, then serve.

Notes/Results: I love the gorgeous pumpkin color! The bisque is packed with smoky flavor and is probably not for everyone. It is definitely hot and spicy, but the main flavor that comes through is the smokiness from the peppers. There was no way that I could eat the soup straight up, so I garnished it with some fried tortilla strips, grated monterey jack cheese, and chives. Even with the garnishes, this is a very strong-flavored soup and is probably best served in small portions. If you love smoky flavors, then this is a great recipe for you. I did like the soup, but am learning that smoky flavors aren't my personal favorite. I would recommend this soup to someone who likes both spicy hot and smoky. It is a gorgeous and unique recipe.

I am submitting this recipe to I Heart Cooking Clubs for Potluck Week!

I am also submitting this recipe to my friend Deb over at Kahakai Kitchen for her weekly Souper Sunday roundup!


  1. This soup sounds wonderful for both my husband and I as we LOVE hot and smoky. I like the garnishes you used too, sounds perfect!

  2. Sometimes smoky flavors are too strong for me too.

  3. It looks great, sorry it wasn't a big success. I always appreciate your honesty though.
    *kisses* HH

  4. I like smoky as long as it isn't too smoky. ;-) Maybe it's one of those soups you should have a shot glass of, as a pupu instead of a cup or bowl. It does look really creamy and good. Thanks for sending it along to Souper Sundays. ;-)

  5. We share a similar taste for hot and spicy and I am very intrigued by this soup and all the different chilies in it!

  6. You can send your leftovers to me if you want:)

    I get your thoughts about being too spicy/smoky but what if you transformed it into use as condiment? Maybe a "mini-southwest fondue", each person's plate has a small bowl of this in the middle and then an assortment of items for dipping around that, like roasted potatoes, some sliced grilled flank steak, and stuff like that? I REALLY want to try this. How fast can I get up there? ;)

  7. What a lovely recipe! I'm stuck in a lentil soup rut - it's the only soup I make these days. I think I'll make this soon as a delicious change :)

  8. I have to say, as soon as you said hot and spicy I instantaneously starting salivating. The color on that soup is amazing! I am headed straight to bittman's book to check it out!

  9. Ooh! I love the look of this! The color is gorgeous! It would probably be too spicy for me though and I'm not a big smoky fan either. I wonder if I could sub ingredients and tone it down a bit.

  10. This does like bisque-beautiful. love smoky also - but yes, some things can be a tad too smoky. No matter what - it was fun to do!

  11. Looks delicious Kim, but I'd probably have to have less heat, I can't do really spicy, actually I can hardly do mildly spicy!!! :-)

  12. There is not a single thing that I don't like about this soup. It sounds wonderful, especially with all of those yummy garnishes.

  13. Kim this soup looks and sounds fabulous! I adore the smokey rich flavor you can only get from cooking with dried chiles! Hey can I use this photo for an upcoming "Make Soon" list post?

  14. I love all of the flavors but I think it might be a little overwhelming for me as well. You are right, the pumpkin color sure is gorgeous.

  15. A gorgeous colored soup. I'm sure it's delicious too!

  16. I would love this..all my fav chiles and the color--great recipe


  17. this is such a great soup! i love how smooth adn pretty it is. the flavors also sounds awesome, great job!

  18. This is an unusual soup and I really appreciated your review of it. It does look gorgeous. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  19. I'm pretty sure I would love this soup! I do like smoky flavors and this is so unique!

  20. I think Chris had a wonderful idea here. This really did turn out beautiful though. I like smokiness but not too much heat. Dipping or using it as a flavor accompaniment to a grilled flank steak or some roasted potatoes sounds perfect.

  21. Beautiful photos and I love the color of the soup. I can guarantee my husband would love it!
    I am glad you liked the sweet potato wedges and I almost hesitated to put the pastries in the muffin tins but was glad I did b/c they turned out cute! Have a great weekend!

  22. Looks tasty! Like you, I love spicy foods too. Too bad it wasan't a smashing success, but I bet it would be good served over something, as a sauce, if it's too smoky/spicy to serve as a soup.

  23. Definitely an interesting coloured soup. Your garnishes make it look wonderful. I like spicy and smoky, so you have me curious...

  24. Kim, your soup looks beautiful - thick and creamy, and beautiful colour. I like spicyish, and I really like smoky flavours, but not sure how much I would love a chilli soup - got me thinking though that I could maybe mellow it out with some roasted red bell peppers. Definitely one to go on the list to play around with.

  25. I share your passion for spicy food.
    Your Bisque looks fantastic!
    To bad it didn't tasted that great...

    Thanks for the hearty hello.

  26. I love spicy, too, but I think I agree that I'd have to garnish with some tortilla chips or something to balance it out. There's nothing like the tingly feeling on your tongue when you're done something spicy. Looks great!

  27. Pretty! Seems to be a soup thing going on lately, I'm seeing lots of them around (and making one myself right now.)

  28. Thanks for pointing out this recipe. I just added a post-it bookmark.
    Maybe one could eat the soup with fresh home-made bread, so that the bread forms the main part of the meal.

  29. I'm a bit of a whimp, when it comes to "heat". I'm getting braver, though. I appreciate your honesty, as I'm not wild about smokiness (except for gouda). Still, you made this look irresistable.

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