Warm up a cold rainy day with a hot bowl of Chili Corn Chowder with Fennel. Corn and chili are classic South Western companions, fennel ads a slight sweet anisette flavor and a rich body to this soup. I made this with the last of the summer’s fresh sweet corn, but frozen corn works just fine. Corn, like green beans, improves in flavor after freezing. It’s an easy soup to make, but you’ll need a blender. Turmeric (aka, “curcumin”) is a spice powder made from a dried South Asian root, it’s the prime ingredient in commercial curry powder. It also adds a warm yellow color to food. Tumeric touts some wellness claims such anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, … yadda, yadda, yadda, let’s get cooking.
1 good blender with puree setting
1 stock pot with lid
4 ears of sweet corn (3 cups)
Half of fennel bulb, shopped (1 1/2 cups)
2 cups chicken broth
1 pint Half & Half, or milk
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup first-press olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp powdered chili
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp dried thyme
If you’re lucky enough to get sweet ears of corn, first the cut kernels from the cob. With a sharp knife hold an ear of corn diagonally on a cutting board. Slice one side with the knife going “away” from you (otherwise keep 911 on auto-dial). Turn corn and repeat until all kernels are cut. Be sure not to cut too deep into the cob, you just want the kernels.
In a stock pot bring stock to a boil. Add corn, sugar, and onion powder. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. If you’re using frozen corn, simmer for 5, but makes sure it’s thawed out completely before adding to the boiling stock. Meanwhile, in a hot skillet (cast iron preferred) melt 3 tbsp of butter. Throw in chopped onion, fennel, garlic, and salt. Cook until fennel and onion have clarified (4 minutes). Add everything from the skillet into the stock pot and simmer for another 10 minutes.
So why cast iron? I find it heats up much more quickly and evenly than other types of pans. Care is simpler than non-stick pans, and when it has been properly seasoned it is virtually non-stick. It is also a good nutritional source of iron in your diet. Mostly of all it looks really cool in a photo.
And now for the blender — this thing is so handy, I should have two. Don’t be a hero, let the stock pot cool a bit and carefully pour 80% of the contents it into the blender (otherwise keep 911 on auto-dial). Puree until everything has a smooth consistent texture. It works best if you blend in smaller batches. Returns the blended soup into same stockpot heat up Half & Half (or milk), then add remaining butter, olive oil, thyme, chili, and turmeric. Turmeric adds a warm color and deep flavor to the soup. Now add the blended corn to the stock pot and heat for 5 more minutes. Done. Serve it in a deep bowl, top with minced scallions or crumbled bacon, grab a spoon, kick back and turn on the Netflix.