Smoky Jalapeno Cheddar Soup

Another rainy day, another bowl of bubbling hot spicy soup. There’s not much else to do when it’s pouring out, and who doesn’t love an excuse to stay at home and cook all day?

I bought too many jalapenos and wanted to find a way to make them the centerpiece of a soup. So here we are – with jalapeno two ways – fresh and smoked.

Smoked jalapenos, if you’re not already familiar, are called chipotle peppers. You can find them canned in their sauce in any grocery store.

Chipotle, as it so happens, is also the namesake of my favorite fast food restaurant. As in, “If you were going to die tomorrow, what would you eat?” – my answer would be Chipotle.  No really – I ate Chipotle 4 to 5 days a week in high school for two years.

The flavor of chipotle is smoky, incredibly hot, and very addictive. I keep bags of it frozen in my freezer. Throw it in anything Tex-Mex – it’s like the Tex-Mex equivalent of barbecue sauce, incredibly versatile.

Your start to this soup is a roux, much like any chowder. It creates a thicker, stewy feel to the soup. I bet chicken and beans would be great in here as well if you wanted to bulk it up a bit, but I’m happiest when I get the full flavor of the cheese and the spices.

What’s your favorite go-to rainy day soup?

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 2 / 3 quart whole milk
  • 1 1 / 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 / 2 small onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper, minced (from the can)
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle pepper sauce (from the can)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Once melted, add the flour, stirring for a couple minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. Add the milk, whisking until there’s no visible clumps of flour. Continue to cook on medium heat until it thickens and the mixture coats a spoon.
  2. Add the onion, jalapenos, garlic, chipotle peppers, chipotle pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Cook on simmer for 15 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the cheese, and stir until completely incorporated. Serve, garnishing with additional jalapeno slices and a drizzle of extra chipotle pepper sauce, if desired.

Habanero Pepper Soup

What’s your most unrelenting food addiction?

Mine is over-the-top spicy food. Dangerously hot. I cannot adequately emphasize the level of spice that I like in my food.

I’ve let myself go, totally. Maybe in some other ways too. Especially since I adopted a 4-month-old rescue dog – Jesus, you should see my apartment. Hot sauce bottles and torn furniture everywhere.

I take swigs of Tabasco straight from the bottle. Red pepper flakes don’t do it for me anymore. It pretty much has to be a habanero-based sauce, or something that purportedly sets a normal person’s mouth on fire.

A spicy soup can be anything you want it to be. You just need broth and spice. When the mood hits me, I’ll dig in my pantry & fridge in an attempt to alleviate this craving.

I bet this might cure up a nasty sinus infection bout or a low-grade cold. In rummaging through my fridge & using what I had on hand, this turned out to be the best combination of lingering spicy heat, garlicky flavors, a teeny bit of sweet & animal-based fats that will satisfy that “itch.” Put a poached egg on top if you need a bit more substance.

Keep a box of Kleenex nearby, because your nose is going to run like crazy. But the burn will feel good, so good. And it will be worth it.

I N G R E D I E N T S

This dish serves 2 spicy-food lovers. 

  • 1 liter high-quality chicken or seafood stock (College Inn is a good brand)
  • 1 / 2 habanero pepper, sliced
  • 1 / 2 habanero pepper, minced
  • 1 / 2 jalapeno pepper, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 8 tablespoons coconut milk (or 6 tablespoons heavy cream)
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 1 / 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 / 4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 / 4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar (if using heavy cream instead of coconut milk, add 4 tablespoons of sugar)

O p t i o n a l

  • 1 egg, lightly poached
  • 1 teaspoon hot sesame oil, for finishing

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Saute the garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil over medium-low heat for 3 – 4 minutes. Add the stock, sliced habanero and jalapeno peppers, Sriracha, fish sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Allow to come to a boil.
  2. Once heated through, add the coconut milk or heavy cream. Simmer for 15 minutes uncovered.
  3. After 15 minutes, plate in shallow bowls, garnish with sliced scallions, minced habanero peppers, and a poached egg, if desired.
  4. Serve hot, drizzling with spicy sesame oil for garnish, if desired.