Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer's Bounty Corn Chowder

Have you ever tried to cut the corn kernels off of a cob?  I know, I know, why on Earth would you do that?  If nature intended for them to be off the cob, she would have designed them that way, right?  But what if I want to make the corn into a salad, or a salsa, or a soup?  I can't very well leave it on the cob, now can I?

A few years back, I was making a salad with corn, zucchini, and tomatoes (very tasty, I'll have to make it again and post it later in the summer), and I tried standing the ear of corn on my cutting board and slicing down with my knife.  Wow, was that a mess!  Corn kernels flew everywhere- it was like a corn massacre.  I salvaged what I could and continued on, but vowed to find a better way to achieve kernels off the cob.  Since then I've seen fancy gadgets that catch the kernels in a little container and heard decent reviews of them.  But really, am I going to spend good money on a tool I'm only going to use once or twice a summer?  Nope.  Then I came across a tip in a Cook's Illustrated magazine that revolutionized my corn kernel removal. 
Stand the ear of corn on top of a small bowl inverted in a larger bowl.  Now when I slice down with my knife, I catch all but a few of the kernels as they fall.  I save myself from having to crawl around on my hands and knees to find all those little bits of corn shrapnel and  I didn't have to buy a single new tool!

Where am I going with this, you may be wondering.  I'd be wondering too.  Well, I had some super- sweet corn this week and decided that rather than simply quickly boiling it and dousing it in butter, I'd actually do something with it.  My son loves this soup, so I thought I'd treat him after a great day at the beach.  You can't have a better summer day than that.  We dipped the leftover pesto dinner rolls from yesterday's post into it and it was a great ending to a great day.  My nice big glass of chilled chardonnay didn't hurt either...

Summer's Bounty Corn Chowder
4 slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces
4 cups corn cut off the cob (from 5 or 6 ears), save 2 cobs for adding to the soup while it simmers- you get quite a bit more sweet corn flavor by doing this
1 anaheim chili, seeded and chopped
1 cup yukon gold or red potato, diced (about 4 smallish ones)
1 cup zucchini or yellow squash, diced ( 1 medium or 2 small)
1 cup onion, diced
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth (you could even use water if that's all you had on hand)
1/3 cup heavy cream
for garnish
1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
2-3 tbs chopped chives

In a large pot, brown the bacon.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add the corn, anahein peppers, potatoes, onion, and squash.  Saute the vegetables for 5 minutes or until they begin to soften.  Add the two reserved corn cobs and broth.  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat.  Simmer the soup for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Remove the corn cobs.  Transfer about half the soup to a blender.  Holding the lid tightly (hot soup expands when you blend it, be careful), puree the soup and then return it to the pot.  Add the cream and season with salt and pepper.  Turn the heat back on to warm the cream.  Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the reserved bacon and some of the diced red peppers and chives.

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