Here is a creamy treat for a chilly day, a sort of Mexican-style cheese and chile chowder garnished with crunchy toasted corn tortillas, a great contrast of textures and a good way to get your calcium as well as some bone-warming south-of-the-border flavor.
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
2 baking potatoes, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups chopped roasted mild green chile, preferable New Mexican or Anaheim, fresh or frozen
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferable Mexican
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup half-and-half
4 ounces Monterey jack cheese, grated
Minced fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Toasted thin corn tortilla strips, for garnish (optional)
1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, warm the butter over medium heat. Stir in the onions and garlic and saute until translucent. Add the stock, potatoes, chile, oregano, and salt and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are very soft.
2. Transfer the soup to a food processor (or blender in batches) and puree until smooth. (The soup can be made ahead at this point and refrigerated for a day. Warm the soup before proceeding.) Pour the soup back into the pan, add the half-and-half, and heat through.
3. Divide the cheese among the serving bowls. Ladle the soup into each bowl. If you wish, top the soup with cilantro or tortilla strips, or both. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.