Valerie’s obnoxious roomate, Melinda, thinks she’s oh-so-sophisticated with her Southwestern cooking. But this corn chowder from her Hot Spots: Spicy Recipes from America’s Most Celebrated Fiery Foods Restaurants cookbook (1992), was pretty cutting edge in the 90s, when Roseheart takes place. The cookbooks says the recipe is from The Pink Adobe in Santa Fe. A glance at their website shows that they’re still keeping up with the culinary times today.
3 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
1 c. cooking oil for frying
1/2 c. butter
2 c. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
1 small jalapeno, stem and seeds removed, chopped
1/2 c. chopped New Mexican green chile
1 tsp. cumin seed
1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. ground red chile powder
3-1/2 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. half-and-half plus 1/4 c. whipping cream
1 c. grated cheddar cheese (early 90s, of course–you could substitute queso de Oaxaca or another melty white Mexican cheese)
2-1/2 c. cooked whole kernel corn
1/4 c. draimed and chopped pimiento
salt to taste
4 c. cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
First, prepare the tortilla strips. Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet until hot and then cook the tortilla strips in batches until crisp, about 1 minute. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
In a soup kettle, heat 2 tbsp. of the butter and cook the mushrooms until brown. Remove and set aside.
Add the remaining butter to the kettle and cook the onion, jalapeno, green chile, and cumin seed until the onion is soft. Add the flour and chile power and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes to make a roux. (This is the point at which Roseheart’s main character, Valerie, has to call her mother.)
Stir in the broth and half-and-half with the whipping cream. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it is smooth and thick. Add the reserved mushrooms, half of the cheese, the corn, and the pimiento, and salt to taste. Cook and stir for 2 or 3 minutes.
Break the tortilla strips into six heated soup bowls. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the strips, and then ladle the soup into the bowls. Garnish with the chopped parsley or cilantro.