Sunday, July 25, 2010

Corn Chowder

I've been accused of being hyperbolic, so I don't want to say it's tragic that corn is only available in the hot summer, but c'mon people, it is tragic.  How else are we supposed to enjoy corn chowder to the fullest?

I made this recipe right when corn started showing up at the markets in California on a Sunday that was a blessedly cool 70 degrees.  Today was a similar Sunday, but I didn't make any chowder since I had plenty of leftover Chicken Tikka Masala in the fridge.

I've never been a chowder kind of gal, but this soup is absolutely incredible.  The cream gives it a thick richness, the potatoes give it texture and body, and the corn gives it the perfect sweetness.  It may be lacking umami, but it's got everything else.

Here are your main non-corn ingredients.  Garlic.  Some Yukon golds.  An onion.  And a bunch of thyme (of which you only need 4 sprigs or so).

Start by chopping up one large onion.  It's amazing how many recipes start out this way.

Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Add in one tablespoon of olive oil and heat until warmed.

Add in the chopped onion and cook for 7 minutes.  Then add in 4 cloves of minced garlic and the leaves of 4 stems of thyme and cook for another minute or two.

Stir in 1/4 cup for flour and cook for an additional minute.

Pour in 4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock (I used chicken because that's the only stock I keep on hand - veggie schmeggie).  Bring to a boil.  Stir in 2 cups of cream and 2 dicked Yukon potatoes.  Bring to a boil and let it keep boiling for 7 minutes or so.  At this point the potatoes should be pretty well cooked.

While you're waiting for all the boiling to take place, this is a good time to shuck your 5 ears of corn.  When you shuck the ears, break off the stem if you can.  To remove the kernels, place the flat end of the corn in a large bowl and use a sharp knife to scrape the kernels into the bowl.

After the 7 minute boil, add in the corn kernels and cook for 10-12 minutes.  Stir in plenty of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Meanwhile, cook 4 slices of bacon in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, until crispy.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel to drain.  Slice the bacon into small strips.

Use a hand/immersion blender to blend until smooth.  This isn't a required step, but I like my soups creamy and without lumps (other than the bacon).  You could also use a regular blender for this process, but you must allow the mixture to cool a bit before blending and you would have to work in shifts.

Add one last drizzle of olive oil to the soup before serving.

One night I used grated cheese and bacon to top this soup.  I'm crazy like that.  John and I were licking our bowls after eating this two nights in a row.  It is that good.  I have a stash stored away in the freezer too - perhaps I'll save it for when the weather actually is cold.  I don't think I'll be able to wait that long though.

Corn Chowder
Adapted from Tyler Florence

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
Leaves of 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups heavy cream
2 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
Kernels of 5 ears of corn
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
4 slices of bacon for garnish

In a large dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Once hot, add in 1 diced onion.  Just before the onion is almost done cooking (about 7 minutes in), add in 4 cloves of minced garlic and the leaves of 4 sprigs of fresh thyme.  Cook another two minutes until everything has softened.  Add in 1/4 cup flour and toss to coat, cooking another minute.  Pour in 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Pour in 2 cups of heavy cream and 2 peeled and diced Yukon potatoes. Bring to a hard boil and cook for 7 minutes until the potatoes are fully cooked and breaking down.  Add the kernels in from 5 ears of corn.  Season with lots of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cook for 10-12 minutes, until the corn is softened.  Meanwhile, cook 4 slices of bacon in the oven on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes - until crispy.  Remove to a paper towel to drain.   Use a hand/immersion blender and blend in the pot until the soup is smooth.  Chop the bacon into small slices.  Splash a small drizzle of olive oil into the soup and stir.  Serve the soup with a garnish of bacon (and shredded cheese if you're wild) on top.

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