Last week I went on a bit of a rant about canned soups (I’ve been ranting a lot lately). After that it only seemed fair to actually make some soup. As usual, when I posted a poll about soup last week, the one that I thought would win placed dead last and the option that I didn’t think had a chance won by a huge margin.
And so it goes…
Before the butter Nazi’s show up, I’ll admit that there’s some cream and butter in this guy, but there’s also a ton of fresh veggies and none of those odd preservatives that they put in the canned varieties. Betsy and I have eaten this soup all week (because it makes a lot) and I’ve fallen in love with it.
1) Start by cutting all the kernels off your corn cobs. If you place the cob in a bowl before you cut, the kernels will fall into the bowl rather than scatter everywhere. Break the cobs in half and save them.
2) Dice the onion and add the butter to a large saucepan over medium high heat. When the butter is melted add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
3) Dice the celery, carrots, and hot pepper and add those to the onions along with the cobs from the corn. Add a pinch of salt and stir.
4) Cook for another few minutes until the carrots and celery are soft.
5) Turn the heat down to low/medium-low.
6) Add the cream, milk, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Make sure the dairy isn't burning to the pan at all. It should take 15 minutes or so to come to a simmer.
7) Simmer for 30 minutes. Depending on how thick you want your soup, you can take the lid off the pot during this. I simmered for 20 minutes with lid on and 10 minutes with lid off.
8) Remove cobs and bay leaf, and add diced potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes until potatoes are soft.
9) Add corn, diced peppers, thyme, and taste for salt and pepper. Simmer for another minute or so and serve immediately. The corn and peppers should still be slightly crunchy.
Prepping the Soup
Most soups are really straightforward to make: First, make a delicious base or stock and second add more delicious stuff to the already delicious base.
The first part, building the base, I think is even more important than adding stuff to it. A watery or flavorless base will sink a soup.
To start this base out strong, we need to deal with our corn. Find the freshest you can find!
One trick about slicing the kernels off a corn cob is to stand the cobs in a medium bowl and slice the kernels off. That way they fall in the bowl instead of scattering all over the counter.
So do that and save all your kernels. Then snap each of your cobs in half and hang on to them. There’s a surprising amount of flavor in these cobs and it would be a shame to waste it.
Next, dice up a medium onion and melt your butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted and hot, add the onions and cook until they are soft, but not browned.
It’ll take just a few minutes. Stir it often and hit it with a pinch of salt.
While that cooks (or before if you aren’t a quick chopper), dice up your celery, carrots, and hot peppers. Once the onions are soft add all of those things and the corn cobs to the pot.
Stir this all together for a few more minutes to get everything cooking and happy.
Once the celery and carrots start to soften a bit, it’s time to add the milk and cream. This is really the only part you can screw up in this recipe so I’ll bold it: Turn down the heat before you add the milk.
If you keep your heat on medium-high, then your dairy stuff is going to scald and burn. That’s not a good recipe for soup. So turn it down to medium-low and add all your dairy: The milk and the cream.
Also, throw in that bay leaf!
This next part is where patience pays off. You need to bring your mixture to a simmer now, but if you do it too quickly you’ll burn the soup. If you do it too slowly, you’ll die of hunger.
Ideally, it would take about 15 minutes to come to a simmer. If yours isn’t simmering in 15 minutes, you can turn up the heat a bit. Once it’s simmering, it needs to do so for 30 minutes total. If you want a thicker final soup, uncover the soup for some amount of time. I simmered mine for 20 minutes covered and then 10 minutes uncovered.
Stir it frequently to make sure your milk base isn’t burning on the bottom of the pan.
Obviously, we are going to add in all that corn we chopped off, but we’ll also want some potatoes and peppers.
Betsy thought these potatoes were little cubes of cheese. Now that would be an interesting soup!
Once your base is done simmering, fish out the cobs and the bay leaf and add in the potatoes first. Let them cook for 5 minutes or so until they are tender. It doesn’t take long if you dice them fairly small.
Then add the corn, and peppers, along with the fresh thyme, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Simmer for just a few more minutes and TASTE IT.
It might need more salt. It might need more pepper. Tasting it is very important.
Then you’re done! Serve it up. The base isn’t supposed to be super-thick. It’s thinner than you might be used to seeing if you only eat canned chowder. If you wanted a really thick base, you could simmer it uncovered for the entire 30 minutes and that would thicken it up.
I like mine a bit thinner though and I serve it with a lot of really crusty bread for dipping.
This soup probably takes an hour to make, maybe a bit more, but it’s totally worth it in my opinion. Betsy and I got three meals out of it. Three really delicious meals out of it.
So if you have some fresh corn laying around these days (who doesn’t?), this would be a good way to put it to use!