Sunday, February 14, 2010

Corn Chowder

It's Sunday. Valentines Day 2010. Last night I had a day off, and today my girlfriend is in town, so I want to cook something great. What did I find in the freezer? Corn. A big bag of corn cut from the cob last summer, and frozen waiting for me to find it. This is Iowa, so I knew that this amazing corn would have to be a star in whatever dish I make with it. For me, what's a great way to feature corn? Soup.

8 cups homemade vegetable stock
(celery, garlic, onion, and carrot with whatever else you happen to have)

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp of
2-3 cups lowfat milk

4 cups of corn grated from the cob with liquid
5 cloves garlic
Half of 1 large onion, chopped
3 small red potatoes chopped

1 tbsp Dill, dry
1 tbsp Herbs de Provence
2 bay leaves
Some shakes of white pepper
Some grinds of fresh black pepper
5 tbsp of corn starch

Vegetable Stock:
I started by taking the ass end of the celery that I would usually throw out (washed off), along with all the leafy bits from a bunch of celery, and I threw it in the stock pot. I threw in a couple carrots roughly chopped down, some smashed garlic, old ginger cut open, green onion ends, stalks from fresh fennel that we ate in a salad the other day, and all the stem ends from a bunch of cilantro. Cover it all in lots of water, boil it for at least a half hour, strain it out, and you have a good veggie stock. I threw in some bouillon for salt and saved it in a bowl. Watch out that you don't grab that bowl while the liquid is super hot!

Order of Operations:
Take your clean soup pot, throw in some olive oil, and sautee your garlic and the onion until it's translucent. Add the corn, grated fresh from the cob, and if it's there, any of that milky liquid that comes with it. Add your stock and get the whole thing boiling. Also add your dry spices and check your seasoning. Add salt or more pepper if needed. Once you have this, add your potatoes and cook until their tender but not overdone, about 15 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix the milk and corn starch with a whisk and once you've got no lumps, pour that into your soup. Make sure the heat is still high enough to thicken the soup a bit. Lower your heat to low. Add the butter as you like, and you should be done. At this point, keep it on low, and enjoy.

With my soup, I've fashioned some fresh bake-at-home baguette with a basil pesto dip. Also, using a frozen summer batch of sage pesto, I've created a sort of drizzle that we can add to the top of the soup when we eat. Just another herby flavor to add when we serve ourselves. You could also throw some chopped cilantro on top or some green onion. If you like it hot, add some Tabasco.

To finish it, I've made a pecan pie, which is my girls favorite, so it's going to be a delicious night on this Valentines Day. The best gift, I think, is food cooked with heart in it. People who eat those things will only agree with that.

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