Don't get me wrong ... this is an awesome chowder to make at any given time of the year. It's the ultimate comfort food for cold, blizzard-y evenings in say, January or ideal for lunch on a cool, rainy Sunday in April. If you can't get your hands on fresh sweet corn, frozen corn that has been thawed would be a great substitution. But, frankly, I think there's little more fabulous this time of the year than at-its-peak sweet corn. Incorporating a few ears into this chowder is highly recommended. And, don't throw out those stripped ears of corn after cutting the kernels off ... toss a few into the chowder as it cooks for extra flavor. Absolutely amazing.
Yields 4 - 6 servings.
4 ears corn, husks and silk removed
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1/2 heaping cup all-purpose flour
5 cups good-quality chicken stock, warmed
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (per preference)
1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
Black pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt, as needed
2 - 3 green onions (green parts only), thinly sliced
In a large, shallow skillet, bring 1 - 2 inches of water to a boil. Add corn and allow to cook for about five minutes - rotating ears to allow all sides to be submerged for about equal amounts of time. Transfer corn to a plate to cool. Once able, cut kernels off cob. Do not discard cobs. Set aside.
In a soup pot set to medium heat, melt butter. Add onions. Cook - stirring - two minutes until just starting to soften. Do not brown.
Add potatoes. Cook for a few minutes - stirring occasionally - until they begin to soften. Sprinkle in the flour. Stir to coat.
Cook - stirring occasionally - for about 3 minutes to cook off the raw flour taste.
Pour in warmed chicken stock. Add in red pepper flakes, Herbes de Provence and a good amount of black pepper. Bring to simmer.
Add corn kernels to chowder - reserving a little for garnish if desired. Add 2 - 3 of the stripped cobs to pot. (This brings additional corn flavor and a little extra starchiness to the chowder.)
Reduce heat to low. Simmer - stirring occasionally - until potatoes are just fork-tender (not mushy).
Remove and discard cobs. Add the milk and heavy cream. Stir to blend. Bring soup back to gentle simmer.
Taste and add salt only if needed. Grind in additional black pepper as desired.
Serve with sliced green onions and remaining corn kernels (if reserved) for garnish.
NOTE: Fresh, chopped jalapeños can be added (when corn is added) for a great punch of flavor. Also, this chowder is awesome topped with crisp, crumbled bacon and/or a little shredded cheese at time of service.
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