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Corn Chowder (but not really)

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A few years ago I had dinner at an adorable little house-converted-to-restaurant somewhere in Oregon. It was an Italian restaurant, but for some reason they served this corn dish on the side. It was strange because it didn’t really fit the rest of our Italian meal. It was corn kernels, diced tomatoes and potatoes seasoned with cumin and something slightly spicy, topped with cheddar cheese. They served it in a small cup as some sort of appetizer. Post-salad and bread, pre-main course.

However strange, I didn’t mind because it was so good! It actually was my favorite part of that meal. About a year after that dinner, I tried to figure out what it was. I sent a very nice email, full of praise, to the restaurant owners. I described the dish and asked for the recipe, or at least what it was called. I never got a response. I looked up their menu online and there is nothing like it on there. My guess is that they were just trying it out to see how it would fare. They are the type of place that changes their menu with the season.

So, I recreated it, adding my own twist. I call this chowder (but not really) because I like to leave it chunky and take out most of the broth, so it doesn’t really resemble a soup. However, I am sometimes in the mood for that chowder consistency. Chowder is so wintery, after all!

All you have to do to turn this into chowder is blend it with an immersion blender, food processor, or stand-up blender. If you do go that route, make sure to let it cool a little so you don’t splash hot liquids all over yourself and your kitchen.

Corn Chowder (but not really)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Half and Half
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 russet potato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Optional (for garnish)
  • Cotija cheese
  • Scallions
  • Tortilla Strips

Instructions

  1. -Spread corn in single layer on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 10-15 minutes at 350 degress, or until slightly browned.
  2. -Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, or dutch oven. Cook bell pepper in oil, turning frequently, until browned. Remove from pan, allow to cool, remove skin and dice.
  3. -Add a little more oil to pan, cook onion until translucent.
  4. -Add garlic, potatoes, spices, and chicken stock. Boil until potatoes are tender.
  5. -Add corn, bell peppers, half and half. Simmer about 15 minutes longer. (if blending into chowder, reserve one cup of corn).
  6. -Serve warm. Top with cheese, scallions, or tortilla strips. (or all three)
  7. If making chowder, allow to cool, then blend in food processor, blender, or immersion blender until desired consistency is reached. Add in the reserved cup of whole corn kernels for texture.

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