Or should we say chowdah? Nah, we think that’s reserved for New England Style Clam Chowder. On evenings when we pick up our produce, we like to have something fast to put together, and something that uses up some of the older produce or other ingredients in the fridge and or freezer. So, when we looked, we saw some cream leftover from making Peanut Butter Cheesecake, corn in the freezer, turnips, leftover mushroom broth, and, as it turned out, we had just picked up a few more red potatoes from the surplus basket at the CSA. So Corn Chowder it is.
It seems as though making a chowder is an all-day affair: the thick, creamy stock, the bits of tender potatoes, everything infused with flavor. Instead, it’s a rather quick soup, something that takes no more than about an hour from start to finish. Just watch. We modified this recipe from our old standby, The Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker.
Makes about 4 bowls (7 cups)
- 3 Tbs unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup onion, finely diced
- 3/4 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp celery seed
- 4 red potatoes, diced
- 2 cups vegetable stock or water
- 1/2 cup cream
- 3 Tbs flour
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups corn, preferable fresh, but frozen will do
The original recipe didn’t call for thyme, which to us it the key to making a good chowder. Yes, we were surprised that Joy didn’t have it (nor did Julia Child’s recipe), because we would never leave it out. You shouldn’t, either. Similarly, neither recipe called for cream, which we feel would be sadly missed. For the potatoes, use a variety that is good for boiling. If they are organic, you can leave the peels on, or remove them, your choice. If not organic, we’d peel. Finally, if you can get fresh corn, use that; your chowder will thank you for it (and so will your tastebuds).
Sauté onion. In a 3-4 quart heavy bottomed saucepan over medium low heat, melt butter and sauté onion until golden and soft, about 10 minutes.
Simmer. Add potatoes, spices, and vegetable broth, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Thicken. Whisk together the cream and the flour. Use a whisk so that you’ll be able to remove all the lumps. Add to broth, stir, and cook until thickened and just bubbling, about 5 minutes.
Finish. Add milk and corn, and heat soup through, but do not let it boil, about 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve. That’s it. Remember to remove the bay leaf, though.
See, we told you that it’d take less than an hour from start to finish! The chowder part of this turned out very well; the one detractor was the frozen corn (no, it wasn’t frozen when we ate it, that’d be a real detractor); it was starchy and bland. Just like frozen corn. No wonder we rarely buy it. On that basis, we have to give this recipe four stars.