It has definitely been a summer of eating so far. And Cy and I haven’t even left for our week of lobster rolls and twice-a-day cocktails. So many good things to eat this year! I didn’t get a chance to post a recipe last week, so here’s one I think you’ll enjoy — sweet corn chowder. It’s vegetarian, and I’ve also put in a variation with salmon.
I don’t mind cutting corn off the cob, although I realize it’s not everyone’s favorite thing to do. I learned about using a bundt pan several years ago and it has made things a lot easier. After you shuck and silk the corn, put the stem into the hole on top of the pan (trim the stem if it’s too thick. If the stem is completely broken off, I jam a small knife in there to hold the ear in place). Run your knife down along the cob and the kernels will fall (mostly) into the pan.
The good news is that with or without the salmon, it’s a great soup to eat at room temperature or slightly chilled. Try it soon, since we’re starting to get great sweet corn. And it’s a great match for Château de Clapier Soprano White ($20). I normally go with a light, crisp wine in the summer. But the chowder is pretty rich, and the Soprano can stand up to it.
Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a first course
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large onion, cut in medium dice
1 stalk celery, including leaves, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
4 ears sweet corn, shucked, kernels cut from the cobs and the cobs reserved
6 – 8 cups vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons dry sherry
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Optional: 1 pound skinned salmon fillet, cut into ¾-inch chunks
In a 4-quart or larger pot, melt the butter over medium heat with the vegetable oil. Add the cayenne, onion, celery, carrot, some black pepper, and a half-teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables soften. Add the potato and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in 6 cups of the vegetable stock. Cut or break the corn cobs in half and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil and the lower the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes. Remove and discard the corn cobs. Add the corn and simmer 5 minutes, then stir in the cream and sherry. Turn off the heat and let the soup sit for a few minutes. Taste for salt and pepper, and add more vegetable broth if you think the soup is too thick. The soup is ready to eat hot, or you can let it cool down to room temperature.
Salmon variation: If you want the soup hot, turn the heat back on to low after you’ve let the soup sit, then add the salmon pieces. Cook for five minutes, then serve. If you plan on serving the soup at a lower temperature, don’t bother heating the pot when you add the salmon – the fish will cook in the soup as-is. You may want to add more vegetable broth if you think the soup is too much like a stew.