I may not be a fan of summer’s extreme heat, but I am am definitely a fan of the profusion of fresh produce available at Salt Lake City’s Downtown Farmers Market every Saturday. Last Saturday I came home with new potatoes, wild greens, okra, green and purple beans, and corn on the cob—all organic.
It’s not always easy to find fresh, organic corn, so I take advantage of the opportunity when it arises. If a recipe calls for fresh corn cut off the cob, I never substitute frozen corn. Like the vast differences between homegrown and store-bought tomatoes, fresh and frozen corn are different animals. Fresh corn has a sweetness that infuses an entire dish and delicate crunch that neither canned nor frozen corn can come close to.
This recipe blends the flavors of in-season summer vegetables. It’s a great soup to share because it makes a pretty hefty batch. One note: I used red peppers instead of the recommended yellow peppers because I couldn’t find organic yellow peppers. Bell peppers are on the list of foods that are most important to buy organic. While the yellow peppers would make the soup look more uniform, I like the look of red-pepper confetti.
Sweet Corn Chowder with New Potatoes
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
1 qt. freshly-prepared or store-bought stock, or water
1 large leek, white part plus an inch of the green, sliced into thin rounds
kernels from 6 ears corn
1 lb. new potatoes, peeled (if you like) and diced
8 leaves of opal or sweet basil, stems reserved
2 T plus 2 t butter (For vegan soup, use olive oil or Earth Balance.)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
4 thyme sprigs or 1/4 tsp. dried
salt and pepper
1 yellow bell pepper, diced (I used a red pepper instead.)
2 cups soy milk (I prefer almond milk for many uses, but the higher fat content in soy milk works better for this soup.)
If you’re making stock from scratch, simply throw the trimmings from your prep work for this recipe into a pot (including the basil stems and corn cobs), along with some smashed garlic cloves, two bay leaves, a carrot and a celery stalk, if you have them. Throw in just about any vegetable trimming you have. Cover with 2 quarts of cold water, bring to a boil, then simmer for a half hour or so. Strain before using.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large soup pot and add the onion, leek, bay leaf, and thyme. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 10-12 minutes. Add the potatoes, stock, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender. (Test them with a fork. Depending on the size of your potatoes, it will can take up to 20 minutes.) While the soup is simmering, cook the peppers in a small pan over low heat with the rest of the butter and a splash of water for about 10 minutes.
Crush some of the potatoes with a spoon, masher, or immersion blender, then add the corn and milk. Simmer until the soup is just heated through and the corn is tender, about 5 minutes.
Thinly slice (chiffonade) the basil leaves. Add the peppers and their cooking liquids to the soup, then stir in some of the basil and chives. Top each bowl with more basil and chives.
Serves 4 to 6 and is even better the next day.