At end of summer good fresh corn is in abundance. Golden kernels and pale, soft green husks, ready to be enjoyed in many ways. Corn on the cob? Count me in. But what else can you do with fresh corn? Here is an as easy, creamy corn chowder recipe, yet another delightful way to enjoy fresh corn. And it’s dairy-free.
Creamy Corn Chowder
Real chowder is supposed to include dairy, bacon and potatoes. In a break with tradition, I’ve eliminated the dairy and bacon, yet kept a little gold potato to keep it hearty. It’s still a rich and creamy chowder because of one of my favorite secret ingredients – coconut milk.
Corn Confusion: Grain or Vegetable?
It’s confusing and not an easy answer whether corn is a grain or a vegetable. Corn can be considered all three – a grain, a vegetable, and a fruit depending on how you eat it. The health, nutrition and diet debates rage. If you are really interested, you can read more about it here. Eaten like this, corn is considered a starchy vegetable.
Corn Off the Cob
All debates aside, fresh, sweet corn makes a wonderful chowder that is a treat for the end of summer. In winter, use frozen, thawed, organic corn. You can preserve summer’s bounty by buying extra corn, slicing it off the cob and freezing it while prices are good.
Strip the husks and silk from fresh corn on the cob. Cut the cobs in half across the center. Stand co halves on the flat end, and with a sharp knife, slice the kernels off the cob. Five cobs should yield about 4 – 4 1/2 cups of kernels.
Be sure to buy non-GMO or organic corn only. Much of the corn grown this country is GMO. Genetically modified foods are not for me or my family, but you do what is best for you. For a terrific site with more information on GMO foods, check out the Non-GMO Project organization site.
Making Creamy Corn Chowder
When you have the kernels ready you can start the chowder. Sauté the onion, celery, leek and garlic in a little olive oil. Add the herbs, thyme and fennel, and corn. Add broth, coconut milk and simmer a bit and you are ready for a terrific bowl of corn chowder. This is great made ahead, but it gets very thick. To thin or to stretch it to feed extra mouths, add more broth.
Spice Tip – Fennel Pollen
Fennel pollen is a very potent, more intense form of dried fennel. If you love the flavor of fennel (and we do) you will likely love fennel pollen. Its been called the spice of the angels. The tiny yellow flowers are collected then screened to get just the pollen.
Fennel pollen is native to the Mediterranean but is also grown here in California. If you can’t find it (and it can be a bit pricey), use ground or whole fennel seed. You ca use it anywhere you would use fennel, in soups, stews, with chicken and pork, or with vegetables.
Make It Ahead
You can make this soup on a Sunday afternoon in about an hour or less. It will hold for 4 days in the refrigerator, so you can enjoy it during the busy week ahead. Serve with a tossed green salad for a hearty, healthy, fast dinner. It gets very thick after sitting in the fridge so you might need extra broth to thin it down.
- 5 fresh ears corn on the cob organic or non-GMO, or 4 1/2 cups frozen, thawed kernels
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 ribs celery 3/4 cup, chopped small
- 2 carrots 3/4 cup, chopped small
- 1 small leek 3/4 cup, chopped thin
- 2 garlic cloves chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel pollen or ground fennel optional but delicious
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 gold potato chopped into 1/2" pieces 8 ounces
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 15 ounce can coconut milk
- Husk corn cobs and scrub off silk. Chop the cobs in half crosswise. Stand each cob on a flat end and with a sharp knife, slice off the kernels.
- Pour olive oil into a medium pot over medium heat. When the oil is warm, add celery, carrots and leek. Turn heat to medium low and cook the vegetables until soft, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook another minute, then add thyme, fennel, salt and pepper.
- Add potato, broth and corn kernels and cook stirring occasionally until the potatoes and corn are tender when you bite them. Keep the heat at a low simmer, just barley bubbling so that the potatoes don't disintegrate.
- When vegetables are tender, add the coconut milk and heat through.