After visiting La Posada on our recent trip to Arizona and having returned home with Chef John Sharpe’s La Posada’s Turquoise Room Cookbook, today I made their signature soup. While I’m generous with my own recipes, I don’t transcribe the copyrighted materials of others, so no recipes will follow. Really two soups, a black bean soup and a cream of corn soup garnished with chili cream sauce. I started last night soaking the black beans. This morning, I roasted a couple of red bell peppers and baked some loaves of half whole wheat bread. I used most of the roasted pepper for the chili cream sauce. The recipe wasn’t specific about the amount of salt, so I’d add a little and taste it, using three or four clean spoons to taste it as I adjusted the seasoning. D. mentioned that it wasn’t quite as brightly colored as he remember the sauce being at the restaurant and indeed, it wasn’t as bright as the picture in the cookbook either. That was the first of many signs that most of this dish would be better accomplished some time between July when local corn is at its prime and September when the local peppers are at their peak.
Most of the time, I treat recipes more like suggestions than following them to the letter, but in this case I did everything as written, mainly because I wanted the consistency of the two soups to be similar so that they could be ladled into the same dish side by side and not mix. I even used white onion in both soups rather than the yellow onions that I’m more likely to have around.
The black bean soup had easily half a dozen spices in it, all of which I found in my well-stocked spice drawer, but some of which I would not have thought to put in a black bean soup. This is a really good soup and subsequent times that I make it, I’ll definitely double the recipe. I think the black bean soup will show up regularly on the menu around here. The corn soup was also really good even though I was working with frozen corn and the recipe is simple with few ingredients. I probably wouldn’t make the corn soup other than to put the signature soup together except when local corn is wonderful and plentiful in the summer. There is a pretty good amount of heavy cream in the corn soup, so if you care what the saturated fat police have to say, which I don’t, don’t make this soup. If it makes you feel any better, there’s very little fat in the black bean soup.
We’d used the regular blender for the black bean soup, so we used the immersion blender for the corn soup. Because of the corn kernels, I’d either use the regular blender for the corn soup, or even more likely, I’d prepare the black bean soup the day before so I can use the regular blender for both soups. Another reason for making the black bean soup a day ahead and reheating it the next day is that it was difficult to get everything blended and heated back up all at the same time in a home kitchen. I did have to add more water to the black bean soup to make sure that the soups were of the same consistency.
Ladling them into a soup bowl simultaneously went well. I’d never done this before, but one of my favorite cookbooks that I’ve had for 20 years mentions serving two soups in one bowl, so the concept wasn’t new to me. D. did mention that the bowls we usually use aren’t as wide as the bowls they use in the Turquoise Room and with a bit of planning, we could have pulled the fancier bowls out of storage and the presentation would have been more impressive. I also didn’t make their signature letters in the top of the soup with the chili cream sauce, choosing just to draw more random squiggles.
Since we have the whole cookbook and not just the recipes for the soup, D. teased me earlier today about what his choices for entrée might be. Only one choice today my friend… Salad with salmon, the rest of the roasted red pepper that I didn’t need for the cream sauce, yellow bell pepper, mushrooms, a green onion, an avocado, some red cabbage and a dressing made from the juice of a lime, salt, pepper, olive oil and some of the chili cream sauce.