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
Serves 6

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
Serves 6

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.


  1. You had me at "sriracha." I love that stuff to bits. Typically if I have a really bad cold, I will make my husband go to our Chinese take-out place and get me a big container of egg drop soup, because that's all I want to eat. Then, I season the heck out of it with sriracha and soy sauce. I feel better instantly! How did I not know there was a sriracha cookbook?!

  2. @Lauren
    Egg drop soup with sriracha sounds like the perfect cold food! I'll keep that in mind as cold season approaches. Actually, I could go for some now...

  3. I love that you used many of the same ingredients to make two things so different! These look wonderful. The days have started getting so short and these look like a great way to add some brightness and warmth.

  4. I know what you mean about sriracha,,,,that stuff is so addictive, which reminds I should make another batch very soon. So the sriracha corn chowder definitely does it for me.

  5. @Mikaela Cowles
    Thank you, Mikaela! I know, I feel like the evenings should be staying light longer since it's so warm out...ah well, fall is on its way. I hope you are well!

  6. @Mairi
    I hope you enjoy it, Mairi! Happy to hear you're a sriracha lover, too, and make it at home. :)

  7. Both soups look fantastic but the one with sriracha is really calling my name. Sadly my favorite place to get local corn lost their crop in Irene. So I'll have to use supermarket corn but that won't stop me :)

    Winnie @ Healthy Green Kitchen

  8. @Winnie
    Thank you, Winnie! I'm so sorry about the lost crops...I know the farms in your area have suffered a lot of damage from Irene. I think the chowder will still be delicious with corn from the grocery store. I hope you enjoy it!

  9. How come there are no tomatoes in the Corn Tomato and Basil Chowder?!

    1. Woops, thank you so much for letting me know! I just updated the recipe to include the cherry tomatoes. I appreciate you stopping by. :)

    2. Thanks! I was worried I was going crazy or blind...


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