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Corn Chowder

I really wish this photo did the chowder justice.   The green bits are fresh jalapeno - for a spicy twist.  

My return to work has reminded me that summer is, sadly, drawing to an end.  While I won't miss the excessive heat and humidity, I am going to miss entire days of doing whatever I please and, of course, the wonderful array of gorgeous produce that only comes around during these months of sweat and bad hair days.  Oh the vibrant reds and greens of summer veggies and berries the color of gemstones! And then there is sweet summer corn.

A bundt cake pan is the perfect tool for slicing the corn off the cob!  Just position the corn cob on the middle tube thingy (so technical) and, as you slice off the kernels, they'll fall into the pan.  ...Well, most of them will.  Only a few cheeky ones will hop onto your floor.

Sweet and simple -- corn is one of my favorite summer crops.   Lucky for me it's one of the most abundant summer veggies and one of the easiest to prepare.  I usually just boil it for a couple of minutes and eat it on the cob - no butter, no salt.   Just pure, sweet and tender corn.  So good.

Once the kernels are removed, the cobs are boiled with a little s + p to make a broth for the chowder.
Once or twice each summer I go for something a little more decadent.  OK, a lot more decadent.  I make summer corn chowder. The flavors in this soup are so simple, but utterly delicious.   Oh, and the smell while it's cooking!!  The essence of summer fills your senses...without the icky heat and humidity.

I discovered this recipe a few years ago in what is now one of my favorite cookbooks, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. (He also wrote How to Cook Everything).  I usually only buy cookbooks that are chock full of glossy photos.  This book is certainly an exception.  There are no photos, but this 1000+ page book contains an amazing array of recipes and illustrated "how to" guides.  If I only could have one cookbook, this one just might be my pick.

Here's the recipe.  Try this summer soup before the last of the sweet corn escapes...

Summer Corn Chowder
printer friendly version

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 1 hour

You'll need:

kernels from 6 ears fresh corn, cobs reserved
2 c water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp grapeseed oil (or another neutral oil, like corn oil, or butter)
1/2 c. chopped scallion
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 c. flour
1 quart milk or half-and-half
1 large baking potato, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
1 jalapeno*, seeds removed (optional)

*I normally don't include the jalepeno here, but I spotted it while making the soup and decided to add it at the last minute.  I enjoyed the extra spice, but I think I actually like the soup better without it.


After the corn kernels are removed, put the corn cobs and 2 cups of water in a pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.  Every once in a while "stir" the cobs...which is really just to say, shift them around a bit.  Leave the cobs in the pot until you're ready to add the broth to the chowder.

Put the oil (or butter) in a large sauce pan.  Once the oil is hot, add the scallion and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the scallion is soft (about 1 minute).  Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly with a whisk or a wooden spoon, until the mixture starts to turn golden and the flour no longer smells raw (5-10 minutes).  Add the milk and the reserved broth and turn the heat up to medium-high.  Stir or whisk constantly until the flour is dissolved and the soup starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the corn kernels and the potato (and jalepeno, if using).  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so that the soup bubbles gently. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn and potato are tender and the soup has thickened (10-15 minutes).

Taste, adjust seasoning as desired, and enjoy!

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