9.19.2012

End of Summer Corn Chowder

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cornchodwer

This is my favorite meal to make on these last days of summer, when the days are still warm, but there's a crispness in the air, hinting at the chill fixin' to settle in once the sun goes down. It's my favorite weather, one that justifies the odd combination of cozy cardigans and shorts. Corn chowder is just perfect for these days. There are all my favorite flavors of summer (heirloom tomatoes, basil, sweet corn), simmered in the warm, rich, comforts of the seasons to come; A creamy broth, flavored with thick-cut bacon and caramelized shallots, and studded with tiny, buttery potatoes.

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This soup is a cinch to make, but it's all about the quality of ingredients, so make sure to scout around the farmer's market (or garden) for some good looking veg. The earthy, sweet, flavors of fresh, local tomatoes and corn really does wonders for this recipe.

How about those Tiny Tuesday worthy potatoes? They're called Peewee potatoes, and their size ranges from the size of a blueberry to the size of a grape. I love to drop them whole into soups and curries, but I also prefer them roasted over french fries. I toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast them whole until the skins are browned and crispy, and the insides are soft and creamy. I've seen them before at the farmers market, and you can usually find them at Whole Foods next to the fingerlings.

End of Summer Corn Chowder
4 shallots, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
4 slices of thick-cut bacon, chopped
4 ears of corn, cut off the cob
2 tomatoes, diced
2 cups of Peewee potatoes, whole or other smallish red or yellow potatoes, cubed
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 qt. chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
fresh basil and green onions to garnish
salt and pepper

In a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot, fry bacon over medium heat, until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon with slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Set aside.

Add the chopped shallots and celery to the hot bacon grease. Cook for about 8 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the shallots have browned. Add flour and salt, and stir until the flour absorbs into the vegetables. Pour in one cup of broth and stir. Let it come to a simmer, then add potatoes, corn, and remaining broth. You want the broth to just barely cover the vegetables, so if you don't have enough, add a cup of water. Let the soup simmer until the potatoes are soft and can be pierced with a fork.

To finish the soup, turn heat down to low, add chopped tomato, cream, and season to taste. I add a good amount of salt, here, but just season and taste until you get it just right. Stir, and continue cooking for another couple minutes, to allow the flavors to blend through. Garnish with chopped basil, green onions, and bacon.

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