“Since hunger is the most primitive and permanent of human wants, men always want to eat, but since their wish not to be a mere animal is also profound, they have always attended with special care to the manners which conceal the fact that at the table we are animals feeding.” - John Erskine

12 August 2014

Fresh Corn Chowder

It’s been a long silence for me on this blog.  Not that I haven’t been cooking, but it’s been crazy around here lately.  First, my knee was broken in a car accident, so I had to rely on friends and family and Oldest to do a lot of the cooking for me.  (Not to mention laundry – other people washing my family’s dirty underwear… shudder! – dishes, vacuuming, dusting, etc.)  Since then I’ve had a bit of a struggle getting back into the swing of things.  But batter up, baby!  I’m back and ready to roll!  Starting with a simple chowder.  (Hey, I have to start somewhere.)

Yep, I know.  Chowder in August.  But I couldn’t help it.  Sometimes you just need the wholesome simplicity of soup.  That, and it’s fresh-grown corn on the cob season at my sister-in-law’s farm.  Mmmm, corn.  We’ve been eating it till it’s coming out our …. Ok, not ears, that would be too corny.  Enough puns, you get the point.  What is it about corn that is just so delicious?  And it’s pretty much delicious any old way: cobbed, kerneled, creamed, frozen, canned, mealed, breaded… My family insists that it’s a vegetable, and doesn’t want to hear that it’s really a starch.  And while this recipe doesn’t have a whole lot of other veggies in it to make me feel like I’m serving up something especially healthy, it goes really well with a fresh salad.  And my husband, who is not a bit soup fan, loves it.  Bonus!
Fresh Corn Chowder
serves 6 to 8
adapted from PureWow

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch leeks or ½ and onion
2 carrots
4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup white wine or white wine vinegar
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 bay leaf
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
Chef Tess’s All PurposeSeasoning (or seasoning of choice)*
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter (optional)

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Chop carrots and leaks or onion finely by hand or in a food processor.  Add to the olive oil and sauté until tender, 5 to 6 minutes.  If desired, set aside 1 cup corn for garnish; add the remaining corn to the pot and continue to cook until all the vegetables are very soft and tender, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Add the wine/vinegar to the pot and bring to a simmer.  Cook until the liquid is almost completely reduced, 7 to 9 minutes.  Put in the food processor again or a blender, and add ¼-½ cup of the broth.  Blend until all vegetables are finely chopped.  Return to the pot, add the remaining broth and bring back to a simmer.

Season the soup lightly with salt and black pepper and Chef Tess’s All Purpose Seasoning, remembering that the flavor will intensify as it simmers.  Continue simmering until the soup has developed a good flavor, 30 to 40 minutes.  For an extra-silky effect, strain the pureed soup through a fine-mesh sieve and return to pot.

Stir in the cream and return the soup to a simmer.  Taste, and add seasoning as desired.  If using corn garnish, heat the butter over medium heat in a small pan.  Add the reserved 1 cup corn kernels and sauté until tender and lightly golden, 3 to 5 minutes.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with 2 tablespoons corn kernels, 1 torn fresh basil leaf and a pinch of cayenne pepper if desired.  Serve immediately.

You don’t have to use Chef Tess’s seasoning, but if you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it.  Unfortunately, you can't just buy one seasoning, but no biggie.  ALL of her stuff is crazy good, and you’ll be amazed at the lovely flavor her seasonings add to food.

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