Sometimes it’s the simplest details that make the biggest difference. This is especially true in the kitchen. It’s the little details that result in the delicious dish you intended or the slight disaster you didn’t quite expect. Sometimes you do everything perfectly, and other times, well, you might accidentally misread the recipe. Like weighing the amount of poblano peppers called for in a recipe before you roast, peel, and seed them, not after. This small detail can be the difference between a slightly spicy or an inedibly fiery final dish. Such was the story for a promising soup recipe.
Last week I finally made chicken stock from the chicken bones and onion scraps that I’d been storing in the freezer, adding fresh chopped carrots, leeks, celery, parsley and thyme to complete the flavor. It produced some of the richest stock I’ve made yet. Then I pulled my copy of Love Soup by Anna Thomas off the shelf, looked up her recipe for “Roasted Poblano Soup,” and retrieved the recently harvested and roasted poblano peppers from the refrigerator. Of course, if you read the introduction above, you know the rest of the short story. After a couple of test sips of the finished soup, it was clear to me that we wouldn’t be able to eat it as it was. I added another six cups of stock and the other half of the package of goat cheese, hoping it would tame the heat, but even then it was still too spicy to eat as a soup.
The long story is that the still slightly nuclear soup became a very tasty sauce for enchiladas, mellowed by the presence of chicken, corn tortillas, and lots of monterey jack cheese. The even longer story is a familiar one, and if you’ve been following this blog, you know that probably means pizza. It’s reminiscent of the tortilla soup pizza, but this time it’s an enchilada pizza with a poblano sauce and all the ingredients of the enchiladas served on a pizza crust.
If you remember to weigh the amount of poblanos before you roast them for the sauce, you’ll have several good food stories to tell. It might be about a roasted and lightly creamy soup, or cheesy chicken enchiladas, or a new spin on pizza. Sometimes it turns out the story isn’t finished until you write the final details, and in the end, that’s really what makes all the difference.
For the sauce:
(adapted from the cookbook Love Soup by Anna Thomas)
3 or 4 fresh large poblano peppers (around 3/4 lb.)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 or 3 fresh epazote leaves (found in specialty or Mexican markets)
2 ounces goat cheese
For the toppings:
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 ounces monterey jack cheese, grated
3 ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese, grated
For the crust:
(adapted from the cookbook Pizza, California Style by Norman Kolpas)
1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
3/4 cup warm water (between 110ºF to 115ºF degrees-use a thermometer for best results)
1-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in the 3/4 cup of warm water. Let it sit until it begins to foam, about 5 minutes. Measure out the white whole wheat flour, mix in the salt, blend in the the olive oil, and stir into the yeast and honey mixture until well-blended. Dough will be thick and sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area for at least an hour, or up to 8 hours. As time passes, mixture should begin to bubble and expand slightly, creating the “sponge” starter.
Once the sponge has fermented and you’re ready to use it (after 1 to 8 hours), adjust oven rack to the second lowest position in the oven, and place pizza stone on rack in cool oven. Preheat to 500ºF.
To make the poblano soup sauce, put the poblano peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet, then put in the oven placed on a rack in second highest position from the top, about 6 inches from the broiler, and broil for 10 minutes on each side until the skin is blistered and blackened. Remove the peppers from the baking sheet and place in a paper bag, letting them steam for 10 minutes to loosen the skin. Remove peppers from the bag and peel off the papery skin. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter and sauté the chopped onions over medium heat until translucent. Lower the heat and add the minced garlic with a medium pinch of salt, and cook for 20 minutes until the onions are a golden color. Add the roasted poblanos, chicken stock, epazote leaves, and cilantro, cover the saucepan, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, then purée in a blender or food processor with the goat cheese until smooth. Pour into a separate container and set aside.
To finish the crust, sprinkle a flat work surface with flour. Scrape the dough from the bowl onto floured surface, then sprinkle more flour over the dough and knead until smooth, adding more flour if dough is too sticky, and roll dough into a small ball. Measure out a large piece of parchment paper, about 15″x15″, and place dough on it. Cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes. After 15 minutes, flatten dough into a small circle. To form crust, use a stretching technique, placing knuckles of both hands underneath the middle of the dough and begin to stretch the dough outwards. You can also hold the dough by its edge and turn it as it hangs, letting its weight do some of the stretching. Once the dough has stretched out a bit and its size becomes difficult to handle, place it on the parchment paper and continue to lift and stretch the thicker edges, making sure to stretch the dough as evenly as possible. Stretch to a 14″ circle. Slide a large pizza peel underneath parchment paper and dough, and slide onto pizza stone. Cook dough for three minutes. The texture of this crust will be more rustic and bubbly once it cooks. Remove to a cooling rack that will keep the crust elevated so it doesn’t get soggy.
To finish the pizza, spread 1/2 cup of the poblano soup sauce over the pre-baked crust, leaving about a 1/4″ rim uncovered. Place chicken pieces evenly over pizza. Mix the onion and bell peppers together and sprinkle evenly over the pizza. Mix the monterey jack and mozzarella cheeses together and sprinkle evenly over the pizza. Open oven door and carefully slide pizza onto pizza stone. Turn oven setting to broil, and cook until cheese looks bubbly and is starting to brown slightly. Slide pizza peel underneath pizza and remove from oven onto a large cutting board or protected surface. Cut into eight slices.
Makes one large 14″ pizza