Sunday, January 12, 2014

Isa Chandra’s Corn Chowder

I am very nostalgic about corn chowder because it was one of the first soups I learned how to make. I used to use my grandma’s recipe which has whole milk, butter, bacon, and cans of creamed corn. 

 In my mind, I can see myself fretting over that simple recipe, trying to figure out how long to sauté the onions, when to add the milk and what to do with the bacon grease. Good cooks have some natural instinct and that comes with practice. After 28 years of practice in the kitchen, I no longer fret over how to sauté onions and I can tell a great corn chowder recipe when I see one. Isa never fails!

Here’s what you need: (I have included some minor modifications)
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ t red pepper flakes
5 ears fresh corn – equal to about 4 cups of kernels plus the cobs
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes or red potatoes, diced
4 C vegetable broth – divided
1 T corn starch
1 can full fat coconut milk
Fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes include:
Fresh basil
Thinly sliced radishes
Shredded carrot
Extra corn kernels

Here’s what you do:
Sauté the onions in the oil until they are translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and simply warm the garlic – do not brown it. Add the carrots and corn kernels and cook for a few minutes. Measure out 1 C of the broth and whisk in the corn starch. Set aside.

Add the remaining 3 C of broth and potatoes to the soup pot.  Cover and bring to a boil. Add the corn cobs. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes. I believe in letting soup rest for a while to really allow the flavors to peak. So if you have time, turn off the heat and let the whole thing sit for another 30 minutes. This will also allow the starch from the corn cobs to do its magic.

Remove the cobs. Add the starchy veggie broth which you have been saving and raise the heat until the soup is a bit thickened. Add the coconut milk. Season with salt and lots of black pepper. Save the lime juice (fresh, of course!) until the last minute.

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