I think that sweetcorn (or corn-on-the-cob) has to be my favourite vegetable of all. I love it in all its forms, even as polenta. I used to make cornbread, up until it dawned on me how fattening it was, but a home-made chilli with cornbread was one of life's little pleasures for a while there.
So when I saw recipes for Corn Chowder appearing as the corn season progressed, I began to hope that I could find one that would equate to a main-course soup. That is, a soup which could be eaten as a main course, without winding up feeling "well, that was okay, but what's for dinner?".
One of our regular family favourite soups is the Smoked Haddock Chowder, which contains sweetcorn. So I knew that the whole idea wasn't likely to be blown out of the water, it was just a matter of finding a recipe that was "big" enough to qualify.
I found just the thing, by accident, on www.fresh365online.com. The recipe contained potatoes, sour cream and most interestingly, a cupful of cheddar cheese. I liked the idea of how that sounded as a recipe, but felt in order to turn it into a main course soup, it needed the addition of some meat - smoked bacon, to be specific. I felt the bacon would "butch" up the soup, plus add a lovely smokey flavour.
Well, I wasn't wrong. One thing I hadn't counted on, though, was that the cobs of corn I bought for the soup had a marked resistance to being cooked. Because I wanted the niblets to wind up tender, I par-boiled the corn before adding it to the soup. It's just as well I did, as even with the par-boiling they were still like little bullets. Goodness knows how they'd have been, if I'd have added them from uncooked! Ultimately, to make the soup easier work on the jaws, I blitzed part of it. The resultant mix was, as Son & heir put it "rather like loose porridge, but porridge that tastes brilliant".
I suspect that, if I'd have caught the corn at the beginning of the season, I wouldn't have had this problem with it. So, if you decide to make this recipe and you have young tender corn on your cobs, bear that in mind and try the texture before you decide to blitz!
CORN CHOWDER (feeds 4)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pack (250g) streaky bacon, diced small
1 garlic clove, grated
1 onion, chopped
half a tsp of cayenne pepper
2 medium potatoes, diced small
500ml vegetable stock
150ml sour cream
half a tsp salt
5 cobs of corn, (par-boiled for 5-10 mins if necessary), kernels removed
a large handful of cheddar cheese, grated
pepper to taste
2 spring onions, chopped fine.
1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the chopped bacon. Fry until the fat has rendered and bacon is beginning to crispen.
2. Add onions and garlic, reduce the heat and cook for 5-10 minutes, until onions have softened.
3. Stir in cayenne and potatoes and cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring often.
4. Add the vegetable stock, sour cream and taste for seasoning. Add salt if necessary - I didn't need to, as the bacon was quite salty enough. Add the corn and bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
5. With a potato masher, gently press on the mixture to break up some of the potato chunks, which will thicken the broth.
6. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
7. Stir in the cheddar cheese and cook for another few minutes, to ensure it has all melted and been combined.
8. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, adding some black pepper if you like.
9. Serve in warmed bowls and sprinkle the spring onions over the top.