Smoky Corn Chowder

Markets, Recipe

IMG_5376It’s the August Bank Holiday weekend here, the equivalent of Labor Day weekend, the official end of all things summery – festivals, backyard barbecues, white pants, Pimms drinking, sunshine. And while back in the US it always seemed to be sweltering outside for at least another month and we were already back in classes, it really does feel like the definitive end of the summer months here as kids start school this week and the days are already getting noticeably shorter and cooler. During this last great hurrah most people around the UK are soaking up the tail end of summer in their caravans, seaside cottages, tents. And, today, right on cue, as if adding an exclamation point on the end of the season, rain is falling from the sky in tremendous sheets and we are expecting a high of 59 degrees.

Before all this misery forced me indoors (and still no husband in residence), I grabbed some corn on the cob during my weekly trip to the Queen’s Park Farmers’ Market (I will admit that the rest of the weekend was quite lovely, if cool). Most of the corn you find over on this side of the Pond is in tins (cans to you and me) and even the good old frozen variety I like keep on hand for quick soups and salads can be hard to find. While I did see more ears of corn in regular supermarkets this year, they don’t have the same robust appearance as they do back home, the husks not a fading green-gold, the kernels pasty and slightly withered. Being from a small town smack dab in the middle of corn country, USA, probably doesn’t help with my corn-snobbery, but I firmly maintain that the joy of fresh summer sweet corn should be shared around the world. It can’t be that hard to grow?

Anyway, I snatched up a few ears of this promising looking corn from the market and then last night, in just over 30 minutes time, turned it into a lovely smoky soup with other ingredients I had sitting around in my fridge. While the flavors are pure summer in a bowl, the warmth and creaminess are perfect for the cold snap we find ourselves in. Plus, I adore the back-of-the-throat heat the chipotles in adobo sauce lend to it.  I also used a technique for making a corn stock, which is great to know about for using in things like a sweet corn panna cotta, it just gently infuses and reinforces the corn taste of any dish. It will be leftovers for me today as I try to fight the urge to turn on our heat!

Smoky Corn ChowderIMG_5492
serves 2

3 corn cobbs, kernels removed, cobbs set aside
1 red pepper, diced
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced
1 cup heavy cream
2 slices of smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
fresh basil, chopped for garnish

In a large bowl mix together the corn kernels and red pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and place in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the corn cobbs in half and place them in a saucepan, cover with 4 cups of water and allow to gently simmer while the corn cooks in the oven. In a large saucepan sautee the onion in butter until starting to soften (about 4 minutes), now add the garlic and chopped chipotle, stir to combine everything.  Now add the roasted corn and pepper, stirring again. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the corn cob stock directly into the larger soup pan.  Allow the flavors to cook together for five minutes and then add the heavy cream and allow the soup to thicken just a bit before serving.  Garnish each soup bowl with the crumbled bacon and chopped basil.

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