Fresh corn and peppers in their raw, pretty state. What happens later is tasty but not so pretty.
Cowgirl and cook Tania Coffey is back on the cooking range, this time helping us figure out more ways to enjoy summers sweetest fresh corn. This recipe is adapted from a vegetarian version created by Aaron Bennett, a chef at the Aspen Ritz Carlton. It was created as an appetizer to showcase Colorado’s produce, in particular Olathe corn.
Tania says: “This soup is so much of a pain to make that after many efforts we decided to grill a chicken breast, shred it, toss it in with the soup, rename it chowder and not cook another thing for dinner. That said, it is so good that in August we make it over and over until we are sick of it and can wait another year for fresh corn.”
So there’s your motivation. Armed with Tania’s disclaimer I made this soup, with my own set of preconditions. First, I only had four ears of corn so I had to cut it in thirds which challenged my math skills. Second, in New England my pepper selection is limited, so I had to go with jalapenos and a couple of canned chipotles in adobo. (Update: as anticipated, Tania politely points out in first comment below that cans have no place in this recipe. So let’s all just pretend I never used those chipotles). Third, I had no chicken, so I reverted to a soup more like the original. The good news is that you now have our guarantee that it is delicious with or without chicken.
Before you embark, I will soften the prep warning a bit by summing up the procedure. You are cutting fresh corn off the cob, and boiling the cobs in milk and broth. You are roasting corn kernels in the oven. You are sautéeing diced onions and peppers in butter. Then you are throwing it all together and pureeing part of it. When it’s done it is really truly NOT pretty. But as Tania notes, “it is incredible when the corn is sweet.” So let’s get over appearances shall we?
You will need two big stock pots and a hearty blender (or an immersion blender along with the good sense to keep it deep in the pot while blending).
Colorado Summer Corn Chowder
Adapted from chef Aaron Bennett via Tania Coffey
Makes: A lot; 10-12 servings at least, or more if it’s eaten by the mug vs the bowl.
- 12 ears fresh sweet corn
- 1 1/2 sweet onion diced
- 3 poblano peppers diced (If you can find roasted poblanos use them for a totally different— and fabulous—taste).
- 3 jalapeños ribs and seeds removed minced
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 T garlic minced
- 4T butter
- 2 quarts chicken stock
- 2 quarts whole milk
- 2 T olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 lb chicken breast grilled and shredded with 2 forks.
Seatbelts on. Preheat oven to 350
Preheat grill for chicken (or bake chicken with corn)
Peel corn. Cut kernels from cobs. Save cobs.
Put cobs in one stock pot with chicken stock and milk and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer gently for 45 minutes.
Grill the chicken breast. Don’t over cook it as it is going in the hot soup. Remember, this step makes the soup a meal but is not mandatory! The chicken is added after the soup is completely made so you can live dangerously and decide then.
Toss corn kernels with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Put kernels on baking sheet and roast for 15-25 minutes until lightly browned. (You’ll need at least two baking sheets if making the full recipe).
In an 8 quart stock pot melt butter and add all peppers, onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat stirring often until onion is translucent but not browned. Add roasted corn and cook for another 2 minutes.
Remove cobs from stock and discard.
Pour broth over peppers and corn. Bring to a simmer for 20 minutes.
Blend 3/4 of the soup in batches in a powerful blender until smooth. The remaining 1/4 stays lumpy for texture. Season with salt and pepper. Add shredded chicken.
Told you it wasn’t pretty. Not that you would judge on looks.
This is how corn takes a bath.
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