Wednesday, April 15, 2020

For the Love of Poblanos! and Award Winning Poblano Chicken Chowder!

I LOVE poblano chiles! I love them roasted and peeled for my Green Chili Cheeseburgers, stuffed with cheese, battered and fried for Chiles Rellenos, and finely diced to create the most amazing "Poblano Chicken Chowder!" But before I continue, I have to get one thing straight: POBLANOS ARE NOT PASILLAS! This sort of thing makes me crazy because many people (particularly in California) are being sold a lie! According to Rick Bayless, "Because of a quirk of migratory history, some Californians still refer to this chile (poblano), and it's dried counterpart, as 'pasilla,' as they do in Michoacan. Otherwise, everyone else knows them as 'poblano,' or simply 'chile verde' in Mexican regions where they're the only game in town."

Here is a picture of poblano chiles:

(When dried, they are known as Ancho!)

Here is a picture of chilaca chiles:

(When dried, they are known as Pasilla!)

In addition, "poblano" is also used to refer to a person who lives and/or is from Puebla, Mexico. Got it?!?

Poblano chiles are not only popular in Mexican cuisine, but in Southwestern cuisine as well! One of the best chowders I've ever had was from Canyon Cafe (aka., Sam's Cafe and Desert Fire)! Their award winning Poblano Chicken Chowder has medaled in 5 out of 6 opportunities at the Manor Grove's "Soup's On" competition, and most recently took home an unprecedented double first-place win in the judge's and people's choice award! Yes, it's that good! Lucky for me and you, I have their cookbook, Canyon Cafe : Bringing The Southwest Experience Home, which I picked up way back in 2000! With the exception of a lot of chopping (great for practicing your knife skills), I found the recipe straight forward and easy to follow. How did it turn out? Absolutely delicious! In addition, it made enough for leftovers to eat for lunch (my favorite!) or even freeze for a cold rainy day! It may not look like much, but trust me, it's fabulous!

Poblano Chicken Chowder

Serves 6-8

For the roux
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup flour

For the soup base
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lb onions, diced
1/2 lb celery, diced
1/2 lb carrots, diced
1/4 lb poblano chiles, stem removed, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 quarts (8 cups) strong chicken stock (or chicken bouillon/water)
1 1/2 tablespoons Tabasco pepper sauce
1/2 bunch cilantro, washed and finely chopped

To serve
1 quart* (4 cups) heavy cream (*I only use 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream, and like it better that way!)
1 lb chicken breast, grilled and diced (I use a grill pan.)
Fried crispy tortilla strips, for garnish (If you're too lazy, you can buy them, but it's better to make them fresh, see Techniques!)
Jack cheese, shredded (optional)

For the roux
Make a roux by heating melted butter with flour and whisking over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Do not brown this mixture. (You may have to adjust the heat!) It should be a blond color. Reserve.

For the soup base
Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven, add onions, celery, carrots, poblanos and garlic. Saute until onions become translucent and carrots begin to soften.

Add thyme, pepper, and cumin, stir well. Add chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Whisk the roux until smooth again. Begin adding the roux and whisk in each bit to incorporate. Be careful not to form lumps!

Continue to cook over high heat for 5 minutes to remove the flour taste. Remove from the heat and add Tabasco and cilantro. Add cream and diced chicken. Heat through. (Don't allow to boil or the chicken will not be tender!)

To serve
Ladle soup into bowls, top with crisp tortilla strips and jack cheese, if desired.

Recipe from Canyon Cafe: Bringing The Southwestern Experience Home.


  1. OMG this soup is so good! I always order it at Sams Cafe in Phoenix and am so happy to be able to make it at home! I added the 2 1/2 cups cream and thought it was just right. Thanks for the recipe! Definitely make it!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It's my favorite soup right now! Thanks for visiting my site!

  2. Thanks for posting this -- it was always my favorite thing at Canyon Cafe in St. Louis, and I was craving a pot of it in Minneapolis! Problem solved!

    1. My pleasure! After all, great recipes are meant to be shared! Thanks for visiting my site!

  3. This is the best soup I've ever made. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    1. Thanks Mark! Getting chilly here, so I will put this in my Fall rotation!

  4. Replies
    1. Absolutely! In fact, I sometimes put some in freezer bags and freeze for a wonderful treat! Thanks for the comment!

    2. Excellent! Thank you so much!

  5. Robin - I just finished a bowl from CC that I visited yesterday. (I'm in St. Louis) Somewhere I have the book... but glad to find this recipe on your blog! I go there and get it to go too often, thought I'd try and wing it making it on my own, but glad I decided to Google! Here we are. Thanks so much!

    1. Fabulous! Don't forget that it freezes very well! It's always a nice treat when you don't feel like cooking!