On rainy days, sitting down in front of the fire with a bowl of thick, warm, comforting soup is such a treat. This chowder, however, really is a meal in itself, and comes together pretty quickly. If you want to add even more flavor, you can use fresh corn and use the cobbs to make a milky, flavorful stock. Should you choose to use frozen or canned corn, this soup is ready in under 20 minutes – perfect for a mid-week supper. What makes this soup a real stand-out, however, is the use of fresh, grated turmeric.
You can use powdered turmeric of course, however, if you have access to an Indian or Asian store in your neighborhood, I highly recommend getting some fresh. It actually has a very different taste than the powder does. It is sweet and aromatic, and has an amazing fresh taste. All you do is peel it and grate it with a microplane. I usually wear gloves though, and grate it onto a piece of kitchen paper, as it can really stain! It’s a versatile, inexpensive ingredient, and I usually buy a small bag most weeks and juice it into my carrot or beet juice, using a finger-sized amount, just like I would use fresh ginger. Gorgeous.
In the summer, when corn is at its peak, I like to buy a large amount and cut the corn from the cobbs, blanch it and then freeze it so I have great-tasting corn throughout the winter months. You can get corn throughout the year in most areas nowadays, but it’s sometimes lacking in flavor when it’s out of season. Even better, f you can get hold of organic corn from your farmer’s market, then you can be sure it’s GMO-free.
Cutting the corn from the cobbs is really easy. Just put a small bowl upside down inside a larger bowl (this prevents the corn from ending up all over the place!) and slice down the cobb with a sharp knife.
To use the empty corn cobbs to make a great-tasting stock for the soup, simply bring 6 cups/3 pints of water to the boil in a large pot (if in the UK, that would be approximately 2.5 pints – a UK pint equals about 1.25 US pints). Break the cobbs in half and add them to the pot, along with half a diced onion and 1/3 finely chopped red bell pepper, being sure to add 1 tsp salt and a good grind of black pepper. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes. Leave to cool, then remove the cobbs with tongs. Use the stock to make the chowder. This is a cloudy stock, and imparts a great flavor to the finished soup, and is well worth the extra 15-20 minutes it takes to make.
For the rest of the ingredients, I’m using celery, onions, garlic, carrot (any kind you like, I had white carrots, so used that), cooked, chopped potatoes, Serrano chile, chard, kale and spinach. I also added some sweet paprika and cayenne pepper to pep it up a bit. I like my food pretty spicy – so leave out the chile and cayenne if you prefer.
While the stock is cooking, melt the butter in a large pan and add the sweetcorn. With the heat on medium, sauté the corn for about 10 minutes until the butter has disappeared and the corn starts to be a bit sticky, with small areas of char beginning to appear.
Add the sweetcorn to the pan with the vegetables, along with the stock and salt and pepper. Bring the pan to a boil, then turn down the heat to a very gentle simmer, and cook for about 8-10 mins. Remove from the heat, cover and leave to stand for another 10 minutes or so.
Now ladle out about 3/4 of the solids, along with about half of the liquid.
Blend until smooth and pour the puree back into the pan containing the solids. Reheat gently and taste for seasoning. Add the cooked potatoes, along with the greens. Feel free to use any baby greens you like here – I used chard, kale and spinach. No need to be precise here either – chop your greens or leave them whole, whatever is your preference, and use as much or as few as you like. Simmer gently until the vegetables are heated through, and the greens have wilted.
To serve, ladle into bowls and top with a swirl of really good olive oil, sour cream or yogurt and top with some toasted pumpkin seeds. Sometimes I add a drop or two of balsamic glaze, and that tartness really contrasts well with the velvety smooth sweetness of the corn.
To make this soup vegan, simply use a vegan margarine and olive oil in place of the butter, and use a vegan yogurt to swirl on top to serve.
- 4 cobbs fresh corn (or 2 cups frozen/canned corn)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 stick celery, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- ½ red bell pepper, chopped
- ½ small red or green chile (optional) - I like the taste of Serrano in this soup
- 2 medium-sized potatoes (or sweet potatoes), cooked until al-dente and cut into bite-sized cubes
- 6 oz chopped greens - I used chard, kale and spinach
- ½t turmeric powder - OR - 1t fresh turmeric, grated (recommended for best flavor)
- ½t cayenne pepper (optional)
- ½t sweet paprika
- 3T butter, plus 2t coconut or olive oil, for sauteing
- 6 cups corn stock, or vegetable stock
- ½ t salt
- ½ t pepper
- 3T pumpkin seeds, toasted (optional) to serve
- Chopped coriander or chives (optional) to serve
- Olive oil (optional) to serve
- Sour cream or yogurt (optional) to serve
- If using fresh corn, cut the corn from the cobbs.
- Make the corn stock with the cobbs, if using - see text above for instructions.
- In a large saucepan or crockpot, melt the butter and coconut or olive oil until smoking.
- Add the sweetcorn and saute for about 8-10 minutes, until the butter is absorbed and the corn becomes sticky and charring in parts.
- In a separate pan, saute the onion for about 5 minutes on medium flame until translucent.
- Add the garlic, celery and carrot and saute 5 minutes more.
- Add the chopped chile, turmeric and other spices, if using. Stir for 30 seconds.
- Add the corn, stirring to combine and now bring the stock and bring to a boil.
- Turn down to a low simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the vegetables taste done.
- Take off the lid and using a slotted spoon, remove ¾ of the solids.
- Put the solids into a blender, along with about half of the liquid and blend until smooth.
- Return the puree to the pan, along with the cooked potatoes and the chopped greens.
- Add salt and pepper and stir.
- Turn the heat back on and simmer on low for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until all the vegetables are tender.
- Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Add an extra pinch of cayenne pepper, if using, for additional kick.
- Spoon into soup bowls and top with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, swirl of sour cream and a pinch of fresh coriander or chives.
You can easily make this a vegan soup, by replacing the butter with a vegan margarine, and omitting the dairy garnish.
Chives, parsley or coriander all work well as a herb in this soup.
Nutritional breakdown is approximate and for general information only, and will vary depending on specific brands and measurements used.