Friday, September 9, 2011
Changing Seasons with Corn Chowder
While I am a summer girl at heart, I do love autumn and look forward to it. We are in a delicious time ... peaches, tomatoes and sweet corn are still in season and the pleasures of crisp air and cooking with apples and squash beckon just ahead.
Since we are back on a school schedule this week, I’ve also resumed my menu planning for meals. Planned dinners quickly fell off the to-do list during the lazy days of summer, an easy thing to do when surrounded by incredible produce that needs little more than a sprinkle of salt. Now that sports practices and homework fill the afternoons and evenings, I want to be sure dinner is ready so we can spend some time around the table catching up on the day.
As I pondered meals for this week, I thought about the coming season of simmering stews, hearty baked loaves and comforting soups. Corn chowder came to mind since there is an abundance of corn and I have a couple recipes calling out to me.
These two chowders are quite different. The first one includes sriracha (aka rooster sauce), the red chile sauce that originated in Thailand. Last year, I began making homemade sriracha. Wow, what an explosion of fiery flavor! Thus began a sriracha addiction ... I tossed our store bought bottle and now keep a jar of homemade in the fridge at all times.
The sriracha chowder was a hit, with Sam proclaiming it his favorite soup. Sam sets a pretty high bar for soup, so this is high praise indeed.
Sweet corn shines in the next corn chowder we devoured. This one fairly bursts with fresh corn flavor, and the addition of cherry tomatoes and basil ensures a taste of summer in every bite.
Savoring these chowders make the end of summer more bearable and will start easing you into the comforts of fall.
Sriracha Corn Chowder
Adapted from The Sriracha Cookbook
By Randy Clemens
8 ears of corn, husked
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
2 red onions, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup sriracha (I highly recommend making it from scratch)
4 sprigs fresh dill
1/2 large lime, juiced
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional – I added it but it is not necessary)
Salt and pepper to taste
Roast 4 of the ears of corn over a gas flame or on the barbecue until the kernels start to blacken. Let cool, then slice the kernels off into a bowl and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the bell peppers and onions and cook until softened. Slice the kernels from the remaining 4 ears of corn. Add the raw corn and garlic to the pot, stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the vegetable broth, sriracha (I found 1/2 cup to be perfect, but feel free to increase or decrease based upon your taste) and dill. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove the dill and discard. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or in a food processor or blender). Mix in the lime juice and cream (if using) and reserved roasted corn. Cook for a few minutes, until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. If more heat is desired, serve extra sriracha alongside.
Corn, Tomato and Basil Chowder
Adapted from a recipe in the New York Times
By Melissa Clark
6 ears of corn, shucked
2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6-7 cups vegetable broth
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 large limes, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream for serving (optional)
Slice the kernels off the cobs, place corn in a bowl and reserve cobs. In a large soup pot, add the butter or olive oil and warm over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. Add 6 cups of broth, reserved cobs and a sprinkle of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes more. Remove the cobs and discard.
Stir in the corn kernels and tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. If the chowder is quite thick, add some extra vegetable broth to your liking. Add the basil, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream, if desired.