Tag Archives: corn chowder

Battle Corn Chowder vs. Corn Vichysoisse

I have been meaning to post about corn soup for a few weeks now but some tomatoes and blueberries got in my way! In a battle of epic proportions (well, epic in my mind anyways!), I pitted the legendary champion, Cook’s Illustrated against fledgling culinary newcomer Gwyneth Paltrow. Yes, that Gwyneth Paltrow. Academy Award winning actress, singer, wife of Coldplay rocker Chris Martin, mother to Apple and Moses and possessor of gorgeous hair. She recently released a cookbook called “My Father’s Daughter.”

Here’s how this battle came about.  When the July 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated came out I quickly leafed through it to see what caught my eye. I was stopped dead in my tracks by a recipe for corn chowder. You see, I love corn chowder. I used to make an incredible one, using  Imagine Organic Creamy Sweet Corn Soup as the base for the soup. But then the company went and changed the formulation of the product.  They slapped a big “New and Improved Taste” banner  right on the front of the box! Yeah right! New maybe, but improved? Only if you happen love the taste of dirty dishwater!

So imagine my joy when I found a new corn chowder recipe. I was all set to make the Cook’s Illustrated recipe when I came across a second corn soup, a cold corn vichysoisse in the July issue of Bon Appetit Magazine. This recipe was created by Gwyneth herself, from her new cookbook, “My Father’s Daughter.” Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will undoubtedly have seen Gwynnie making the rounds on all the daytime talk shows, promoting her book.

She has very sweet and touching memories of cooking together with her dad, and this book is a sort of tribute to her late father (Bruce Paltrow). It is a cookbook that celebrates family and togetherness. And try as you might to hate her, because she seems so perfect, she admits that her quest for perfection comes from self-doubt and insecurity. And who can’t relate to that?  And I must admit, I was intrigued. After spending all that time in Spain with Mario Batali and Mark Bittman, I wanted to see what she had learned.

To be honest, I fully expected to prefer the corn chowder from Cook’s Illustrated over the corn vichysoisse from Gwyneth. To level the playing field, I immediately omitted the bacon from the Cook’s version. After all, it wouldn’t really be a fair fight if only one side got to use bacon. Everything always tastes better with bacon. And besides, we keep kosher at home, so bacon would be a big no-no in my kitchen.

I made the corn chowder from Cook’s first. They used an intriguing method of stripping the corn from the cob. Fisrt. going over it lightly with a sharp knife to remove just the kernels and then going over the cob again with the back of a table knife to remove all the pulp. Then they instruct you to put all the pulp into a clean tea towel and wring it out. The liquid that comes out from the towel is referred to as the “corn liquor” and apparently it is what gives the final soup its bright fresh CORN flavour.

The corn chowder from Cook’s Illustrated was very good, although I expected a brighter corn flavour, and to be honest, I thought the  half and half cream kind of muddied the fresh corn taste I was expecting. Then I made Gwyneth’s vichysoisse. She suggests throwing the stripped corn cobs into the pot, while the soup is simmering, to add extra flavour, sort of like the vegetarian version of chicken bones I guess. The recipe calls for good quality vegetable stock. I used homemade vegetable stock, a fabulous roasted vegetable stock courtesy of Mark Bittman. I was blown away by the pure corn essence of this soup. Sweet and silky and tasting of pure late summer. Folks, we have a winner in battle Corn Soup. I

Final score: Gwyneth 1 and Cook’s Illustrated 0.

I have adapted Gwyneth’s recipe only slightly by using the Cook’s Illustrated tip of adding the fresh “corn liquor” and garnished the soup with some raw corn kernels for a bit of crunch.

Click here to print the recipe for Corn Vichyssoise.

Click here to print the recipe for Roasted Vegetable Stock.

And, if you’re keen to create your own Battle Corn Soup at home,

Click here to print recipe for Cook’s Illustrated Corn Chowder.

Smoky Corn Chowder

Warning… I’m going to rant like an old person, about the good old days, when you could count on certain things to same. When companies built things to last and when product consistency was a highly regarded value.  Don’t you just hate it when companies change a product, when it was perfect already. Then they go and slap a “new and improved” label on it and when I try it, I discover that the improvement has actually made the product worse, not better. Why do they insist on tinkering with something when it isn’t broken. I am referring, specifically, to Imagine Organic Creamy Sweet Corn Soup.  It used to have a mild corn flavour that I used as a base for corn chowder. I am not sure what they changed but it now has a nasty chemical aftertaste. I stopped making corn chowder after this.

But then I found a recipe in Chatelaine Magazine that uses canned cream style corn to give the soup thickness and body. I had always thought that cream style corn was corn puréed with cream, but it turns out it contains corn, water, sugar and cornstarch. It is low in fat and works beautifully to thicken a corn chowder with very little effort. The original recipe used bacon to get that smoky flavour. We keep kosher, so bacon was out of the question. For a cold winter day (like every day this winter!) I wanted to have the heaviness of a smoky soup. I decided to experiment with smoked turkey breast. I chopped up a few slices and sautéed them in some vegetable oil. Instead of onions, I opted to use leeks.  Sometimes leeks can be quite sandy, so I quarter them, slice them and then soak them in a bowl of cold water.

This is one of those simple chop and dump soups. It simmers for 20 minutes and you have a thick and hearty chowder. A bowl of this is like a big hug, warm and comforting. Add a slice or two of no-knead bread and dinner is done.

I also popped in a finely diced jalapeno pepper when I was sautéing the leeks to wake things up a bit. You could use sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes for a pretty colour contrast and to up the vitamin content. Make it today, you’ll thank me.

To print this recipe, click here.

 

 

Linda’s Corn Chowder

This recipe was inspired by my friend Linda.  She is the one who introduced me to Imagine Organic soups in tetra-pack packaging.  They come in several flavours (creamy corn, butternut squash, tomato to name a few) and are fantastic for making quick soups.  It’s a great pantry staple. 

The creamy corn does not in fact contain any cream or dairy products for that matter.  I think of these soups as a blank canvas and add in my own ingredients.  This is delicious in the summer when you can add fresh corn but I make it all year round using frozen corn too.

What you need:

3 tablespoons butter
3 small cloves garlic, finely minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
1 ½ – 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 large onion, finely diced
2 ribs celery, finely diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into ½ inch pieces
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 litres Imagine Organic Creamy Sweet Corn Soup
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

What you do:

  1.  In a large pot, melt butter and add garlic, jalapeno,  salt and onions and sauté over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes.  Add celery and cook for about 5 more minutes.  Add potatoes, thyme and Corn Soup.  Bring to a boil, turn down to low, cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

   2.  Add corn and cook for about 5 more minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding pepper and more salt if needed.  Transfer one third of the soup to a blender and puree.  Add pureed soup back to the rest of soup.  Serve hot.

corn soup cropped

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