September 27, 2011

Creamy Potato and Cheese Corn Chowder

Dear Friend, One summer, my friend K convinced me and some friends into manning a corn stand perched at end of her very long and narrow driveway. She was very entrepreneurial and persuasive. That summer, K and her father were experimenting with organic corn. Unfortunately, most became infected with the corn borer {warning: corn borers are creepy. think twice before googling}. These are the challenges you face when trying to grow corn without insecticides. We were able to salvage some of the corn. Not enough to sell to the local grain silo, but enough to sell to passersby.  K lived down the road from a golf course, which provided most of our business. She not only made us sell corn at the end of her driveway, but also made us set up a booth at the end of her uncle's driveway. His house was located on a major highway, and that meant opportunity. This entrepreneurial corn endeavor only lasted one weekend, because we refused to commit more than two days. To pass time, we brought a case of beer and a bottle of bourbon, which we kept hidden behind our make-shift corn stand. Surprisingly, sales increased as the day went on - probably because after a few drinks we got more confident in our corn selling abilities, and decided that interactive dance advertising was the best way to attract customers.

Every time I drive by a corn stand on the side of the road, I think about that summer, the bourbon, the corn, and the fun times at the Walker Farm. This summer has been a good year for corn. I have eaten my fair share; in order of tastiness, that would be white, peaches and cream, and sweet corn.  Earlier this week, my local food box sent me five thousand fruit flies, followed by some more sweet corn. I attempted to boil up a cob or two. I drenched it in butter, and covered it with salt, but when I bit in, it was tough and starchy. Odd considering this season's track record. Fortunately, I know a sure-fire way to make the most of tough corn: cut the kernels from the cob, and make corn chowder! Before we get any further, there are two important thing I need to mention. 1) Cutting the kernels off a cob of corn is extremely messy. Wear goggles. Also, if any of you know any tricks, let to me know, because I am still finding pieces of corn on the ceiling, the top of the fridge, etc. 2) When was the last time you cleaned the top of your fridge? Today, I learned that the top of my fridge is a breeding ground for fruit flies and all things nasty. If you haven't, clean the top of your fridge. It's a must.

Sorry, back to chowder. This corn chowder basically consists of oil, butter, onions, potatoes, corn, cheese, and cream. Rich, creamy, and flavorful, corn chowder is a favorite of mine. I like to add some Tabasco sauce to give it a Southwestern kick, whatever that means. Totally just made up Southwestern kick.  Hmm, did I forget to mention the vegetarian bacon?  If vegetarian bacon creeps you out, use real bacon, no biggie. I'm sure you've heard me rant and rave about Morning Star's vegetarian bacon, because it's basically the best thing since real bacon. It has a great salty, smoky flavor that's a must for this soup. I totally dig it.

Remember: creamy, salty, smoky, savory, cheesy, rich soup = corn chowder.

p.s. don't forget the fridge. 

[Print Recipe]

makes 8 - 10 servings
recipe adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

4 oz. of vegetarian bacon
1/3 cup olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
6 cups veggie stock
3 cups white potatoes, chopped
5 corn cobs, or 2 - 2 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 cup half and half
1/4 tsp Tabasco soup
1/4 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded


1. In a large soup pot, fry the vegetarian bacon on medium heat, with the olive oil until crispy. Approximately 5 - 10 minutes.

2. Remove the vegetarian bacon from the oil and set to the side. Peel and chop the onions, and then add to the oil with the butter. Fry until soft and translucent.

3. Once the onions are soft, add the flour, pepper, turmeric and cook for 3 minutes.

4. Add the vegetable stock and chopped potatoes. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are soft, approximately 30 minutes.

5. Cut the corn kernels off their cobs and add them to a pot of boiling salted water. Boil for 3 minutes, and then remove kernels from the water with a strainer. Add them to the soup and cook for 5 more minutes with the potatoes.

6. Add the cream, Tabasco sauce, and shredded cheese to the soup. Cook until the cheese has melted.

7. Crumble the vegetarian bacon on top of the soup as a garnish.

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