Summer Corn Chowder

summer corn chowder

This post will be short and sweet….just like the brief window for summer corn. The recipe comes from Martha’s Stewart’s PBS show “Cooking School”, which if you haven’t seen it, is masterfully produced. Martha’s instruction is concisely detailed and her commentary is informative in an approachable way. I personally love how relaxed and focused the show is versus the hyper, over-the-top gimmicky food shows that seem to be flowing out of the TV lately.

I hadn’t intended to post this soup (as evidenced by the image drought) and for the life of me I’m not sure why. However, I quickly changed my tune after spooning it out of the pot for a taste test. It’s a simple chowder. Fresh, sweet and composed of minimal ingredients so as not to overshadow the corn’s delicate flavor. It’s creamy because it’s been mostly pureed, although it is finished with a minimal amount of half and half. Right before serving, snip some fresh chives for garnish- their oniony zip will nicely contrast the sweetness of the corn.

If you are looking for a complete meal idea, I made Garlic Roasted Potatoes with Spinach and Eggs to go along side. Almost forgot to mention….this soup smells like fresh plucked corn and its gorgeous pale yellow hue simply beckons. It’s a treat to all your senses. Please breath it in before you take that first bite…it will only make it better.

Summer Corn Chowder

Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart.

I wasn’t happy with the fresh corn in the market, so I begrudglingly used frozen. I know it’s a perfectly acceptable substitute and my end result wasn’t compromised in the least, but I really wanted to shuck corn! Let me know when you make this and I’ll come by and do the honors.

Ingredients

  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 2 cups white onion, diced (about 1 large)
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme wrapped in cheesecloth and bound with twine
  • 5 cups yellow corn (frozen or fresh)
  • 4 cups homemade chicken broth
  • 1 lb red new potatoes, cut into 1/2" discs
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh chives for serving

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven (I used a 6.75 quart) over medium-low heat.
  2. Add onion, thyme, corn and season with salt.
  3. Cook for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Do not let the onions brown.
  4. Pour in the stock, add the potatoes and then bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Extract the thyme and discard.
  7. Remove 3-4 cups of the soup and set aside.
  8. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.
  9. Return the reserved soup to the pot along with the half and half. Stir and gently heat.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Serve with freshly snipped chives.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2014/07/21/summer-corn-chowder/

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Friendship.

squash for Mexican Squash Soup

I’m always amazed how people come in and out of your life. Sometimes they are there for the long haul, other times they just seem to pop in and out and then there are those in the middle that you expect will endure, but surprisingly fade away. I used to mourn the idea of losing touch with a friend, but I’ve come to realize there is a better way by enjoying the time you have, finding personal growth in the relationship and learning about yourself and the type of friend you are and strive to be. Hopefully, both your life and theirs will be enhanced having spent time together….no matter the duration.  Moving half-way across our country has made me appreciate this sentiment, but I don’t do it with a heavy heart, rather with the awareness of how fortunate I’ve been to have cared for so many who reciprocated with matched affection.

squash and serrano for Mexican Squash Soup

Funny how life works out, but just before I arrived in Texas a special friend also relocated here from NC. I crossed paths with Sarah through the club industry and was quickly impressed by her professionalism and desire to excel and master her field.  It’s almost second nature to her to consider the impact of decisions and policies far beyond the immediate result but rather for the vision of the organization. Impressively her ambitions don’t preclude her from a willingness to seek alternate perspectives nor does she shirk any chore or request as something “outside of her area”. The flip side (there’s always a yang) is that her dedication at work often conflicts with a commitment to self….which leaves going to the market, let alone cooking, a dismal priority. Needless to say, I worry…her poor taste buds need a little week day ooolala!

red pepper for Mexican Squash Soup

I’ve not been to Rancho La Puerta (sniff sniff), but this creamy, spicy and yes, healthy squash soup hails from the famed spa. On a good day, if I squeeze my eyes shut and imagine so hard that billows of steam practically puff from my ears, I’m transported there in one delicious spoonful….albeit only for a few brief whiffs of wellness heaven. Obviously I didn’t come by the recipe firsthand (ahem), I came across it 5 years ago in Bon Appétit and have been making it ever since- for me, as well as my close friends  Eileen and Catherine who evidently endorse it because I’ve never seen one remaining speck  in either of their bowls. Sorry ladies! I figure if I make Sarah a pot of this soup she’ll have a dinner waiting for her each night that is tasty, nourishing and perhaps a bit inspiring. It’s the least I can do to express how having her in Texas makes my husband and I less disconnected from our previous life and more like being home…..a sense of family in this vast state.

Mexican Squash Soup

Mexican Squash Soup

Adapted from Rancho La Puerta's Azteca Squash Soup.

I go crazy for homemade chicken broth and you can make this soup with it, but you really don't need to as there are so many bold flavors going on already.

Ingredients

  • 3 lb butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for squash
  • 2 cups yellow onion, medium chop (about 1 large)
  • 4 celery stalks, medium chop
  • 2 TBSP chopped garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 5 cups homemade vegetable broth
  • 15 oz can black beans (low or no sodium)
  • 10 oz bag frozen sweet corn, thawed
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and medium chop
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 serrano chile, minced (cored and seeded if you want to reduce heat)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean-up.
  2. Rub the cut side of the squash with some olive oil, generously sprinkle with salt and pepper and place cut side down on prepared baking sheet. Roast for 45-50 minutes until fork tender. Let cool until comfortable to handle and scoop the flesh out and reserve for later.
  3. While the squash is roasting, heat the 3 TBSP of olive oil over medium-high heat (I used a 9 quart Dutch oven, but a 6 quart pot will do the trick). Add the onions, turn the heat to medium-low and cook for about 5 minutes until soft and slightly browned.
  4. Add the garlic and celery and cook for another minute.
  5. Pour in 1 cup of broth, bring to a simmer and cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir once.
  6. Add the squash, cumin, remaining 4 cups of broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool slightly (about 5 minutes).
  8. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup.
  9. Add the beans, corn, both peppers, cilantro, thyme and salt. Cover and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  10. Enjoy as is or with some sinfully delicious toppings! Like cool sour cream and crushed tortilla chips. Fresh chopped cilantro is also a nice contrast.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2014/03/03/friendship/

 

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Apple of my eye.

apple for Apple Onion and Cheddar Soup

I LOVE THIS RECIPEEEEEEEE! Hopefully my yelling didn’t startle you. It’s just that I’ve been waiting for an eternity to share it. My version came to be as most greats do by accident. I was following instructions from The New England Soup Factory Cookbook when I brazenly plunged the immersion blender into the pot and puréed the apples and onions until they were just shy of smooth. This step was definitely not called for and I certainly hadn’t planned the indiscretion, yet it just felt right… and tasted even better. Now instead of being distinct flavors, they mingled on the spoon as one and then… just as the heavens opened…..it sang out to me…in perfect harmony… or perhaps I just imagined that part.

This soup is never far from my mind but no matter how much I crave it and how hard I try to imagine things differently, its custom made for the season where leaves crunch, bold wind gusts rein and the falling dusk says light a fire, open a bottle and nestle in for the night. Is there anything better? I adore the ease and energy of summer, yet my soul thrives in the beauty of fall and the oodles of tastes associated with it….especially apples.

apple 2 Apple Onion Cheddar Soup

Worried that my beloved New York McIntosh wouldn’t weather the trip to TX, when the box arrived instead of immediately opening it, I took a moment to indulge and breath in the sweet, fresh fragrance that shrouded the carton and hung in the air as if promising of more pleasures to come.  With baited breath, I broke the calm and tore into the box…revealing (thankfully) the most pristine half-bushel I’ve ever laid eyes on.  They survived! And within an hour they were minus 2.

Apples make delicious savory soups and as you peruse the ingredient list below I’m quite certain you’ll hear “ding” “ding” “ding” and instantly jump on my bandwagon as to why this soup is a must for fall…kinda sounds like a fashion trend.  We’ve already covered the apples, but there’s also apple cider, caraway, cheddar and Calvados….an assembly of fall flavors. I’m sure by now you’re reaching for a cozy wrap (here’s the one I’m coveting, which thankfully for my bank account is sold out) and heading straight to the farmers market.  Last time I made tender whole grain sandwiches with salty ham and a smear of Dijon (perfect complement to the soup), but this time I went for a Ham Gruyere Tart to make things a little fancier, but with practically the same ease  as slapping together a sandwich. Now, the only thing left to do is light a fire (or flip the switch), open a bottle of Champagne and nestle in!

Apple Onion and Cheddar Soup

Apple Onion and Cheddar Soup

Adapted from the New England Soup Factory Cookbook.

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 TBSP chopped garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 5 sweet onions, sliced
  • 3 lbs McIntosh or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 6 cups homemade chicken broth
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds, toasted in a dry skillet over medium high heat until fragrant (about 5 minutes)
  • 1 tsp freshly chopped thyme
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 10 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 TBSP Calvados
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated black pepper

Instructions

  1. Melt butter and olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and reduce heat to medium-low. Sauté for 25 minutes until the onions are soft and golden. Stir occasionally. Add the garlic for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  3. Add the apples and sauté for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Next add the chicken broth, cider, caraway seeds and thyme.
  5. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  6. Reduce to medium, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
  7. Remove from the stove and puree. I used an immersion blender.
  8. Add cream and cheese and stir until the cheese is completely melted.
  9. Stir in Calvados, salt and pepper.
  10. Return to the stove and gently simmer for about 3 minutes.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/10/08/apple-of-my-eye/

Notes:

  1. My go-to cheddar to eat and cook with is Black Diamond. It’s a Canadian cheese that is aged to perfection. I’m in love with the 5-year aged, but it’s difficult to find. Not many stores carry it due to the cost; however, you can usually find the 3-year aged. When you cook or bake with cheese, I think it’s important to use one that is strong and can stand up to the rest of the ingredients, otherwise, what’s the point?
  2. I mentioned champagne above and because the soup is sweeter than most, it’s important to pair it with something dry and crisp. I also like something a bit saltier to eat alongside it as well.
  3. Be sure to use a tart apple variety because sweet ones won’t provide enough contrast in the soup.
  4. If you don’t have or don’t care to use Calvados , replace it with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

 

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Best Enjoyed Poolside

charred poblano for Cold Mexican Avocado Soup

In case you wondered, it’s still hot in Texas.  When the thermometer in the car reads 100, 102, 107 (no joke) I get kind of mesmerized by disbelief and obsessed with revealing the big news to everyone I encounter as if 1. They don’t already know and 2. They’ve never seen it before.  I guess I’ll start being a Texan and stop being a Carolinian relocated to Texas once my fascination with the weather subsides. In the mean time I keep trying to figure out how to prevent my make-up from sliding off my face……nice visual, huh? Kind of scary movie creepy…..

You might recall my post from last year about Caribbean Gazpacho with cool cucumber and juicy pineapple chunks. It, like most chilled soups, is most flavorful when enjoyed without the blanket of a perfectly air-conditioned dining room. They are meant to refresh, cool down, perk you up and quench parched taste buds. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy them inside, but you’re really missing the point and therefore the pleasure if you aren’t “glistening” a bit when you dive in.

My husband and I have always been fans of avocados and in Texas you can find perfectly ripe ones any time of day in just about any store that carries provisions. My crystal ball (bet you didn’t know I had one) has been busy spinning images of silky avocado ice cream, chunky guac, spicy avocado for Cold Mexican Avocado Soupavocado toast and a cold Mexican avocado soup! Poblano peppers, cilantro, Mexican oregano, chili powder and lime meld together to create the perfect first course for a light summer meal. I’d personally love to pair it with sweet butter roasted shrimp, however, my other half is not a fan…ah hem….. what will we do with him? Instead we built tomato bacon sandwiches (definitely not a shabby alternative) from extra-thick peppery slices and juicy heirlooms that we showered with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano – before lightly warming them under the broiler. There is something very satisfying, almost instinctually so, when you pair foods of contrasting temperatures.  After dinner my crystal ball had another vision….me in January counting the days until the mercury hits 100! I think I’m settling in just fine.

Cold Avocado Soup with Chili-Lime Pepitas

Cold Avocado Soup with Chili-Lime Pepitas

Adapted from Fine Cooking.

Make an outdoor event out of it and take it poolside, lakeside, to the park or zoo. Soup is so portable, but chilled soup is even easier to tote around. Just pour into a thermos and throw in the ice chest, or make it special with individual containers and sweet little spoons.

Ingredients

  • 1 large poblano pepper
  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped white onion (about 1 small)
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 3 ½ cups homemade chicken broth
  • 2 ripe avocados (about 20 oz total), pitted and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 TBSP freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 8 oz crème fraiche

Instructions

  1. Position the oven rack on the highest groove and turn the broiler to Hi. Place the poblano on the rack and roast for about 10 minutes, turning every few minutes in order to char all sides. It will become beautifully blistered with black flavor-packing blemishes. Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let it cool completely then peel off the skin, pull out the stem and remove the core and seeds. Give it a rough chop reserving a few tablespoons to garnish the soup with. You might want to finely dice the pepper that you plan to use for a garnish….for pretty sake.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Cook the onion until it’s nicely browned- about 5 minutes.
  3. Place the pepper and onion in a blender, along with the remaining ingredients EXCEPT for the crème fraiche. Purée until creamy smooth. Depending on the capacity of your blender you may need to do this in two batches.
  4. Once puréed, blend in the crème fraiche.
  5. Tastes for seasoning and then pour into a container or bowl and chill overnight or for at least 6 hours.
  6. Garnish with Chili-Lime Pepitas and reserved roasted poblano pepper. I also like a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/08/16/best-enjoyed-poolside/

Chili-Lime Pepitas

Chili-Lime Pepitas

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 TBSP freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp Ancho chili powder
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In a small skillet (I used an 8”) heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the pepitas and cook until they begin to pop (about 3 minutes).
  3. Pour in the lime juice and remaining ingredients.
  4. Stir continuously until all the liquid has evaporated and the pepitas are glazed.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/08/16/best-enjoyed-poolside/

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Home, Sweet, Texas

mint for Zucchini Mint Gazpacho

“I love the heat”, “Humidity Smumidity” “…the hotter the better”……hmm….these bold, defiant (and, yes, naïve) statements spewed from my mouth as resolute declarations that a Texas summer had nothing on me. “Bring it on!”….I said…”not a problem”…I said…..hmm….rain cloud anyone? Northern Breeze, where are you? Mother Nature can you give it a rest?! Texas is HOT! I do like it, but relief I hear is months away. When I arrived in June “they” said it’s early and to just wait for the real heat to begin. Trying to offer comfort “they” even offered  ‘you’re lucky’  it’s been mild. 92 at 11pm mild???  A bit ago, I inquired about eggplant at the farmers market and was told that the “cool weather” (huh) had delayed the crop. I really, I mean really hate being wrong, but I admit I underestimated (not really the same thing as wrong) the intensity of the sun in my new home state. Even a daily slather of SPF hasn’t stopped a golden hue from forming on my once (happily) pale skin…..

zucchini for Zucchini Mint GazpachoSo since Texas is literally melting off the map, we needed something soothing, crisp and cool to release us from the searing conditions. My husband, after umpteen (delicious) attempts by me, has yet to get into the whole cold soup thing. Personally, I think his mind is getting in the way, but that’s fine. We’ll try again. Tonight. With Zucchini Mint Gazpacho. Just the sound of mint anything is refreshing… ahh. Say it with me….ahhhhhh.  This soup is slightly sweet from the zucchini, light and creamy from a turn in the blender and ICE cold. Plus its brilliant hue couldn’t BE more appetizing (that’s me channeling Chandler Bing). Paired with a simple Tomato Tart how can he not fall in love? This is a man who’s preferred mode is A/C house to A/C car to A/C office back to A/C car… you get the routine. Chilled soup should fit the bill perfectly. And to clear up any confusion, I still say 100+ beats -0 any day.

Zucchini Mint Gazpacho with Radish Cucumber Salsa

Zucchini Mint Gazpacho with Radish Cucumber Salsa

Adapted from Aran Goyoaga's recipe as seen in Coastal Living.

Mint is certainly an assertive herb and it’s presence in the gazpacho is not subtle, but don’t worry it doesn’t overwhelm the other flavors either-you’ll get a distinct layering of tastes. I’m partial to the rush of mint that comes about 3 seconds post-spoonful. And definitely make the salsa topping so that you have a little crunch to compliment the gazpacho’s silkiness.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb zucchini, cut in half length-wise and sliced
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions (about 8)
  • ¼ cup fresh mint, packed
  • 1 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup water
  • Salsa Topping
  • ½ cup English cucumber, seeded and finely diced
  • ½ cup radish, finely diced (about 2-3)
  • ¼ cup sliced green onion
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp fleur de sel

Instructions

  1. For the soup, add all the ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Chill for 24 hours or until ICE cold. Makes two luscious and refreshing servings.
  2. For the salsa, combine the ingredients in a small bowl and let stand for 1 hour.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/08/04/home-sweet-texas/

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Just because…..

carrots for roasted carrot soup with avocado feta and seeds

When you stop and consider the people in your life usually there are a few rare individuals whose kindness and devotion to others shines above the rest. They are always there, instinctively anticipating needs, never complaining yet sacrificing their time and sometimes money for those they hold dearest. These dedicated souls often go without much recognition or thanks and even more impressively don’t seem to notice if it’s not given. Renee is Amber Anne’s mother, as well as the mom of two other equally lovely daughters, and in the past year became a doting grandmother to Hazel and a new little sweet pea.  For years I’ve respected her selfless efforts to nurture and protect her flock and many times found my husband and I privileged to be adopted into their gatherings as “part of the family”. I have nothing but esteem for this woman’s tireless and authentic nature and just because she is who she is, for just being her and for always making me feel special and welcome, I wanted to do something in return, just because…..

 I started by roasting the most resplendent carrots dusted in spices like ginger and coriander until they caramelized into sweet charred buttery nuggets.  Next they steeped in an unguent broth flavored with organic carrot juice then spun into silk (ok, puréed to a silken consistency) and decorated with avocado, feta and a trio of toasted seeds.  Perhaps you know someone you can make this lively, earthy soup for…..just because.

Roasted Carrot Soup with Avocado Feta and Toasted Seeds

Roasted Carrot Soup with Avocado Feta and Toasted Seeds

This soup is gorgeous! The colors are so brilliant that you almost hate to disrupt its canvas by dipping in for that first spoonful.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh carrots, peeled and chopped into 1” pieces
  • 3 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups yellow onion, chopped (about 1 large onion)
  • 2 cups carrot juice
  • 4 cups homemade chicken broth
  • ½ TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • For serving:
  • 4 TBSP roasted salted sunflower seeds
  • 3 TBSP sesame seeds, toasted (instructions below)
  • 3 TBSP poppy seeds
  • 1 Haas avocado, sliced
  • Crumbled feta

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place chopped carrots in a large bowl and pour the melted butter of them. Stir to be sure the butter has coated each piece. Sprinkle in the next five ingredients thoroughly stirring to be sure spices are evenly distributed.
  3. Dump on to a half sheet pan (lined with parchment for easy clean-up) and roast for 30 minutes; stir once.
  4. Meanwhile, place the sesame seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat and toast until golden and fragrant (about 5 minutes). When slightly cooled, combine them with the other seeds in a small bowl.
  5. While the carrots are roasting, heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven (I use a 6.75 quart) over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 8-10 minutes until soft and translucent.
  6. Add the roasted carrots, broth and juice. Cover and bring to a simmer.
  7. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat, let cool for a few minutes and purée with an immersion blender.
  9. Add ½ tsp salt and lemon juice.
  10. Gently reheat and taste for seasonings. Be careful of adding too much salt as the feta and sunflower seeds will also add saltiness.
  11. Serve with a sprinkle of the seed mixture, a few slices of avocado and some of the feta.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/06/27/just-because/

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