I love when corn is in season. I tend not to cook with it all that much–I usually just grill it by the day and eat it straight off the cob. But after seeing this chipotle corn chowder, I knew I had to do something similar. I originally planned to replicate the recipe as is, but as I started making changes, I found I was tending to add a bit of a South American flare to it, so I ran with it.
Now I had no interest in making a soup–I wanted a chowder, and a chowder needs a bit more body to it. So to add a thick, starchy base, I opted for green plantains instead of the usual suspects like roux or potatoes (although I did add a bit of corn meal, but hey, its a corn chowder, so that’s different, right?). Melting cheddar into the soup towards the end also added a bit more body in a great way. I also was generous with the peppers–serrano and chipotle–since they’d both bring strong and distinct flavor as well as a respectable amount of heat (which is tempered by the milk in the soup).
And of course, the star of the show: corn. I chopped the kernels off of a few ears of corn and simmered the cobs in stock to give it a richer corn flavor than mere corn kernels alone would provide. It worked wonderfully–there was a really intense corn flavor at all levels–foundational in the stock, some from the cornmeal, and the corn itself. Its a tough one to describe, but you just experience corn in a multitude of ways all at once, and its very enjoyable.
The soup also had a very nice lingering heat to it–smoky, peppery, and lightly hot, but nothing that overwhelmed the palette (for me, anyways. Your mileage may vary). The chorizo also contributes to this, while adding a bit of meat (literally, figuratively, whatever you prefer) to the chowder. It was really a great summer meal. I opted for a simple “salsa” kind of garnish, and it was the perfect pairing–it gives this thick, creamy soup something crunchy and crisp to contrast with. Other crunchy elements like fried tortilla or a baked cheddar crisp would also fare well.
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 vidalia onion
- 2 stalks celery
- 6 serrano peppers
- 2 green plantains
- 6-8 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp corn meal
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 5 ears corn
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5-6 chipotles in adobo sauce
- 4 cups milk
- 1/2 lb grated cheddar
- 1/8-1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- ~1 lb chorizo
Gather all of the vegetables. Husk and clean the corn, chopping the kernels off and reserving the cob. Dice the onion, celery, garlic, pepper, and peeled plantains.
Melt down the butter and sauté the vidalia and celery for 5 minutes. Then, add the serranos and plantains for 5 minutes more, finally, adding the garlic for a minute further.
Sprinkle the corn meal over the sautéed vegetables, toss things around for a moment to coat, and then pour in the vegetable broth and lime juice. Scrape all the brown bits off of the bottom of the pot and add the corn cobs (not the corn kernels), diced chipotle and adobo, salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander. Raise this to an active boil. If the pot looks crowded and it looks like you’re short on liquid, add some of the milk now so that you reasonably submerge the corn cobs. I added 2 cups at this point.
During all of this, in another pot, remove the chorizo from its casings and brown in a pot, crumbling up finely and cooking until totally cooked through. Drain off excess grease and set this aside for now.
Once the corn pot reaches an active boil, drop the heat to a low-medium simmer and add the corn kernels to the pot. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
When time is up, remove the cobs, add the cilantro and puree what remains in a blender (or with an immersion blender–how did I ever live without this?). Drop the heat to low and add the remaining milk and grated cheddar. Give things a stir, add the chorizo, cover the pot, and leave it be for 5-10 minutes.
Finally, its time to eat. A lively looking garnish is a good way to dress this soup up, so I opted for a quick “salsa”–diced tomato, serrano, and some corn kernels. I also used some cheddar and chorizo just as a nod to what else is in the soup. Fried tortilla or baked cheddar “crisps” would also work wonderfully. Whatever you decide–get a bowl and enjoy!