Corn Chowder

The recipe in the following post came to mind the other night when I spied frozen corn in my freezer and wondered if it would make a decent substitute in this soup. It did.  The broth wasn’t as corny in flavor because I had no cobs but the frozen corn made this super easy to prepare. Plus, having just returned from a 2 week trip, it saved me from dragging my jet-lagged self to the grocery store.

This post is something I wrote summer of 2010 for my earlier blog, Peanut Sauce & Potstickers. It was never posted because about that time, though I continued to think about blogging, it just wasn’t happening.

Summer 2010

Corn soup has been on my mind all summer.  But I really have no story about it.  The honest to goodness truth is I relish corn on the cob, just plain ol’ corn on the cob, without a smidgen of butter or salt or anything.  Pure and simple corn on the cob. Preferably cooked on the grill.

But sometimes it is necessary to change-up the routine. Due to ongoing front teeth work this summer I decided to make a soup that would capture the un-gussied essence of corn on the cob yet be easier on the teeth.  When it came to looking for a recipe though, most corn soups or chowders called for more ingredients than I wanted to use.  A recipe in Real Simple Magazine (found while perusing the magazine in the dentist’s office!) turned out to be my lightbulb. But unlike the recipe, I chose not to use chicken broth, cream or butter, and instead of kosher salt I used sea salt.  I did however decide to borrow the idea for the Poblano Puree which was a perfect smokey complement to the sweetness of the corn, not to mention a welcome simple sauce to pique other dishes as well.

The result was a soup that reminded me of creamed corn.  I couldn’t decide whether to call it a side dish or a dessert. (In some countries, corn is an ingredient in desserts.) Regardless of when it is eaten, you have to start with great sweet corn to get the best flavor. Sometimes this is easier said than available.

4 large ears of organic corn should give you approximately 4 cups of kernels.  Remove the kernels with a sharp knife in a downward motion, trying to get as much of the kernel as you can.  Put the cobs in a large pot and cover them with water and bring the pot to a boil.  Turn down the heat and let the corn broth simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Put two tablespoons of the broth in a small dish and set aside.

In the meantime, to a large saucepan, add ½ cup of chopped onion to ¼ cup of water and sauté the onion, stirring as needed, over medium heat.  When the onion is tender, add the corn kernels, corn broth and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until the corn is tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Next, puree the soup in a blender or food processor in small amounts. You could also use an immersion blender and blend right in your pot.

For the poblano pepper purée, char the skin of the pepper under the broiler or over the flame of a gas stove.  When cool, remove the skin, stems and seeds. Coarsely chop.  Process or blend the chopped pepper with the 2 tablespoons of reserved corn cob broth.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Swirl a small amount of poblano purée on top.

If using frozen corn:

Coarsely chop 1 large onion and dice 1 stalk of celery. In a soup pot, sauté onion and celery together in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 cup water over medium heat.  As the vegetables begin to wilt and glisten and the water is almost gone, add 4 more cups of water.  Add 3 cups frozen corn and simmer for 10-15 minutes over low heat.  Blend in up to 1 tablespoon of  garbanzo bean miso… or more, or less.   If you aren’t familiar with the taste of miso, go ahead and start with a teaspoon.  Put about 1/2 cup of broth into a small bowl.  Add the miso, blending well.  Pour into the soup and taste.  Repeat if you want to add more miso flavor.  You’ll find the miso adds saltiness and a touch of sweetness to the broth.

Next, using a blender, roughly purée the soup in small batches. Return the soup to the pot and add an additional cup of frozen corn. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.  Taste for seasoning.  Add salt and pepper as desired.

Garnish with chives, green onion or cilantro.

Both of these variations of Corn Chowder are calories away from the heavy cream and butter classic.

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