I made a pot of corn chowder last night for our dinner. I’ve always loved corn soups. The most memorable corn chowder for us was on a visit to Chicago when our friend Stagg and his family took us to Ditka’s for dinner. The whole meal was excellent but we both remember the corn chowder above all. I just took a quick look at their menu and it looks like they no longer serve it.
My corn chowder is quite a bit different than the one we had at Ditka’s That one was quite thick and on the sweet side. Mine is not so thick, and as well it is very savoury and pretty spicy too. Both good, just different.
I started off the way you might begin making any number of Cajun-type dishes, by sauteing onions, peppers and celery in half oil, half butter, except I added jalapenos along with green peppers. I added salt and pepper and plenty of Herbes de Provence while it cooked. After a couple minutes I added a couple cloves of garlic chopped up. I don’t add the garlic right at the beginning because I want to make sure it doesn’t brown and turn harsh. After a few minutes I added some flour and stirred it all around for a few minutes to cook the flour, making a roux.
There’s an old rule that works: add cold stock to hot roux to avoid lumps – so that’s what I did. I happened to have some stock in the fridge. I stirred it around for a bit, then added lots of frozen corn. In August I would have used ears of fresh Ontario corn, but the corn you can buy in our grocery stores in March isn’t up to much, and I think frozen corn is plenty better.
I let the pot simmer for a while while I watched some Go commentary on YouTube. Finally, when I decided it was ready, there was only one thing left to do. I removed about a third of the soup and pureed it with a hand blender, then added it back to the pot. I do this with some other soups as well. I like to have some chunkiness to the chowder but pureeing part of it helps thicken it. I think it’s normal to add some cream at this point – and that would have been delicious – but for everyday cooking I forgo heavy cream and I like my chowder just fine without.
While I was making dinner I wasn’t thinking of writing about it, so I failed to take any photos, but I can tell you it looked just like corn chowder, nothing too exciting there. I can also tell you it was really tasty. The jalapenos add some heat without being overpowering and the Herbes de Provence make the chowder savoury and irresistible.
There are lots of ways to vary this soup. One would be to use all sweet peppers instead of the jalapenos. You could also change up the seasoning. If I made this when I had fresh herbs growing in the yard, I would absolutely have used them. I bet this would be really good with some seafood too. I didn’t dry any wild mushrooms last season, but I can see lobster mushrooms – which retain good texture – being an excellent addition. When I’m cooking, I usually change things up depending on what I have on hand and what I feel like. I have a restless imagination so I’m not so good at following recipes and making things the same way each time. Besides, it’s much more fun to make cooking an adventure.