We’re in our unofficial last week of summer here and I figured time was running out to embrace one of the season’s favorite sweethearts…fresh corn. We’re not growing corn at the farm since we don’t have the acreage to support it. But at Headhouse, our farm stand is cattycorner to a stand with the most amazing big white juicy ears. While eyeing up the tangy fresh tomatillos at our stand and the corn at theirs, a passerby mentioned making a corn and tomatillo chowder once. That’s all it took to sell me on the idea of combining bright tanginess with creamy sweetness in a cool soup to send summer on her way.
It was nice to get the soup pot out again. It’s by far my best highest quality pot or pan. It’s a justified indulgence since in the colder months I make it a habit of conjuring up some for other soup on a lazy Sunday afternoon that supplies my lunches for a week. Soups are sorta my “thing”. But I rarely make them in the summer and this chowder was a nice change of pace – a foreshadowing of the approaching autumn I’m so eagerly anticipating.
I have a basic creamy corn soup recipe I’ve got memorized from repeated and frequent use so switching it up a bit with some tomatillos and a hot pepper was easy enough. I think next time I might try caramelizing the tomatillos in a bit of oil instead of boiling them to see if that brings out some smokiness in the final product. Or perhaps a flame roasted poblano pepper instead of the Hungarian Hot Wax? But I’d better not mess too much with a good thing. Or at least not this summer since corn season’s about to run out.
By the way, in case your scowling at the idea of soup in summer, this one’s quite good when served chilled. It would go nicely with some fried tortilla strips, BBQ ribs and a side of creamy coleslaw.
CORN AND TOMATILLO CHOWDER
Adapted from a basic corn chowder recipe in The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Soup
2 T. peanut or corn oil
4 large shallots or 1 medium onion, diced
1 hot pepper such as Hungarian Hot Wax, diced
1 sweet pepper (purple, red or green), diced
2 ears of fresh sweet corn, kernels cut off (about 2 cups)
12 or so tomatillos
3 c. of vegetable or chicken stock
1 c. light cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Husk tomatillos, place in a small sauce pan and cover with water. Place on high heat until water boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes until tomatillos loose their bright color and float to the top.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large deep skillet. Add the diced onion and peppers, reserving a tablespoon or so of the pepper for garnish later, to the hot skillet and saute over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until they get soft and brown on the edges. Add the corn kernels to the skillet and saute for 2 minutes until softened and the color pales. Finally, drain tomatillos from their hot water and add to skillet to toss with sauted vegetables. Stir to incorporate.
Carefully pour contents of skillet into a blender (or use an immersion blender – so much easier) and process until smooth, adding a little stock if needed to loosen it up. Transfer blended contents back to skillet and slowly add in stock over low heat. Allow soup to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to scrap up any corn sticking to the bottom of the skillet.
Remove skillet from heat and stir in cream. Serve soup chilled or warm. If serving warm, gently reheat – never allow soup to come to a boil. Garnish each bowl of soup with diced pepper and thin slices of an uncooked tomatillo.
(makes 4 large servings)