Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer Corn Chowder

I absolutely love soup and enjoy fixing it year round. I consider it the ultimate lunch, regardless of whether it is a light fare or approaching a hearty stew. Pair soup with a rustic bread and a green salad and dinner is served. 

Sweet corn being one of my favorite seasonal vegetables and the very essence of summer, I couldn't wait to create this easy summertime chowder. Growing up on dairy farms, both Corey's and my family use to plant acres and acres of corn for silage for the milk cows. Unfortunately field corn is not the same as sweet corn. It is exponentially tougher and without the sweet, tender flavor that makes even the most proper of us eat it like we are manual typewriters. The solution? Our families always planted two rows of sweet corn around the outside of the corn fields.

Summer Corn Chowder

Fresh Corn

I typically use a chicken stock as the base for most of my chowders, but for this yummy summer soup, I decided to kick up the flavor with a homemade corn broth. Should you prefer, you can always substitute low salt chicken stock for the corn stock.

Summer Chicken Chowder

6 ears of corn on the cob
7-8 cups of corn stock
6 strips of bacon
2 stalks of celery, diced
½ small onion, diced
5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
½ teaspoon of dried thyme
1 ½ cups light cream
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 small tomato, diced
4-5 basil leaves, chiffonade

Place corn in a large pan, add enough water to cover. Boil for ten minutes. Remove corn, let cool. Reserve water.

Once the corn is cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife and cut corn off the cob. Use the back of your knife and run the knife up and down the cob to remove the last bits of corn clinging to the cob. Put corn in a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to use. Use cobs to make corn stock (see below).

Slice bacon into 1” pieces. Add to large soup pan and cook over medium heat. Cook until bacon is crisp but not burnt. Remove half of the bacon and set aside for garnish. If there is more than 2-3 tablespoons of grease in the pan, drain extra grease.

Add celery and onions. Cook until soft. Add thyme to mixture and stir for 1 minute allowing herb to infuse oils in pan.

Add corn, potatoes, and stock to pan (if necessary add chicken stock to corn stock to make approximately 7 cups). Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender.

Once potatoes are tender add cream. Continue cooking over low heat until warm. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place chowder in bowls. Top with fresh diced tomatoes, bacon, and basil. 

Tip: Cream tends to curdle if add to piping hot stock. This can be prevented by tempering the cream. First place cream in a large bowl. Add a small amount of hot soup slowly and stir. Continue adding small amounts until cream is the same temperature as the soup. Once warm, add to the soup.

The heavier the cream the less likely it will be to curdle. If you need to reheat soup later, remember to heat over low heat slowly as heating too fast can cause the cream to break.

Note: Due to the cream and potatoes, this soup does not hold up well to freezing.

Corn Stock

Reserved water (see above)
6 corn cobs, kernels removed
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs of thyme
3-4 peppercorns

Add corn cobs to the reserved water from cooking corn. Add additional water if necessary so that cobs are covered. Add bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorn. Simmer over medium heat for 1 ½ hours.

Strain, discard solids, and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Corn stock is excellent in soups, risotto, or any recipe calling for vegetable stock.

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