There’s nothing that says the end of summer more (except maybe of a glut of tomatoes – have you seen all my tomato posts, lol!) than the end of Sweet Corn season. It’s a sad day when the abundance of corn withers away to a dribble, then there’s nothing left but a few lonely ears in the bottom of the huge boxes that stand in so many produce departments.
I just had to have one final hurrah and make this simple corn chowder. It’s a down-home recipe, not fancy at all. A few aromatics and a little thyme bring out the best in the corn. A little potato adds some body (whirl the potato up in a blender or mash it if you’d like a thicker chowder and if you’d like, reduce the stock by about a cup.) Made as shown or modified for a thicker chowder, this is a wonderful meal.
Those that know corn know you pick it the day you use it, never refrigerate it (unless you’re not going to eat it right away – which you should never admit to) and husk it right before cooking. And you don’t open it before you buy it – that’s for rank amatures. Look for fresh silk at the top and inspect the cob for small holes or breaches in the husk.
Press along the top of the ear and you’ll be able to tell if the cob has beautiful, full kernels. Try it on another portion of the ear to see what it feels like. Then look for the “nod.” That nod you get, that little signal of respect, from others in the know that signifies that you’re a sweet corn bad ass.
If you’re not a sweet corn bad ass, and you’re craving corn chowder, it’s good to know that a nice full ear of corn will give you about a cup of kernels, a slimmer one about 3/4 of a cup and this soup needs about six cups of corn – or about 2 ten ounce packages of frozen. I wouldn’t go there, though, unless you have an absolute craving! Serve this with crackers, corn muffins or biscuits.
Simple Corn Chowder
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together, or about 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 1/4 cup flour
- 5 to 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 large russets, peeled and diced about 1/2″ chunks
- 6 ears corn
- 2 cups heavy cream or 1/2 & 1/2
- Salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, lots
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, covered, stirring now and then until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the thyme and garlic and cook a minute or two longer.
Sprinkle with flour, stirring to coat and continue to cook for a minute or two until the flour appears dry but hasn’t picked up any color. Pour in stock, bit by bit, stirring to incorporate the flour. Bring to a good boil and add potatoes and continue to boil for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft, stirring now and then. Remove thyme sprigs.
The starchiness of the potatoes will help to thicken the soup and may be left “as is” but if you’d like a chowder with a more body, after the boil remove the potatoes and stock to a blender and blend, being careful of the hot liquid. Alternatively, the potatoes could be blended with a stick blender or mashed by hand right in the pot.
While the potatoes are boiling, remove the corn from the cob using a sharp knife (cut over an inverted bundt pan or large cookie sheet to capture the kernals.) When the potatoes are cooked (or cooked and blended) add the corn. Bring back to a simmer and cook until corn is desired doneness, three to four minutes, stirring often.
Remove from heat and add cream or half and half. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with parsley.
Note: For a little more flavor, if you’d like to prepare the corn ahead, reserve the cobs and break into two pieces. Add to the soup with the potatoes, then before adding the corn, remove the cobs and scrape them with the back of a knife to “milk” them. Hold them over an inverted bundt pan using a corn cob holder. Add the resulting liquid back into the soup.
from the kitchen of www.frugalhausfrau.com, rather loosely adapted from Tyler Florence
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