Many paths to corn chowder

Corn Chowder

This winter has been one that has had me thinking about soup soup soup.  Big pots of steaming hot soup.   Like today, a high of what, 6 F?   I’m thinking soup.  Fortunately, soup is easy even when you are sniffling around the house.   And nothing pleases most crowds like chowder.

For the Locavorious December share recipe handout, I included my latest favorite version of corn chowder.  This wonderfully simple corn chowder was adapted from a recipe on SimplyRecipes.com, and it got great reviews online and here at home.  I had made the vegetarian version, but included the bacon option in the handout.   Since then I have heard back from several Locavorious members, with their recommendations and raves for other substitutions, including several vegan versions.   (Thanks everyone!!)  So, here is my attempt to capture the basic formula for creating winner corn chowders for all the different eaters in your life…

Select your preferred fat:  1 ½ Tbsp unsalted butter, or vegan margarine, or olive oil, or 1 strip of cooked bacon + 1 tsp of its rendered fat

Choose only the best corn:  16 oz frozen Locavorious sweet corn kernels in milky juice, not that I’m biased or anything.

Choose veggies, mix & match, see what’s in the fridge or freezer:  about 1/2 cup chopped onions, 1 or 2 large carrots, 1 or 2 celery stalks, ½ cup of frozen chopped red peppers, some chili peppers,  a cup or so of broccoli, a cup of shelled edamame, and  1 large Yukon Gold potato, or Russet, scrubbed and diced

Select your preferred liquids: milk, soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, broth, water – a combination such that the soup has at least 3 ½ – 4 cups of liquid to cook in

Spices:  1 bay leaf, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves or ¼ tsp dried thyme, hot pepper flakes, dash of cumin

Directions

In a large saucepan, heat your fat of choice over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add the more robust veggies (except the potato) and cook for 4 or 5 more minutes.

Add a little water to the saucepan to cool it off.  Add the milk(s) and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cover the pot and cook for ~ 20 minutes.  (If using cow’s milk, make sure the heat is as low as can be and still maintain a gentle simmer.)  At this point you can partially thaw the corn in warm water or a microwave; pour the corn juice into the pot.

After 20-30 minutes, discard the bay leaf.  Raise the heat, add the potatoes, 1 tsp of salt, and fresh ground pepper to taste, bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost fork tender.

Raise the heat, add the corn kernels and other vegetables and the thyme.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Mmmm nice hot soup.


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