While we were having Thanksgiving lunch at Mom’s, I glanced over at my 15-month-old niece, Laney. She was sitting in her high chair with a fistful of pumpkin pie in one hand and a heaping mound of whipped cream in the other. She stared at both hands for a few seconds and then looked up and said one thing: “Good.”
If I had to sum up this year in one word, it would be “good.” Not, “Eh, good.” But “pie in one hand and whipped cream in the other” good.
I hope you’ve had a good year, too, but I know none of us will feel like we’ve had a good year if we get to Jan. 1 and discover an extra buttock. So, instead of diving head-first into cheese dip, casseroles and triple-layer cakes, let’s do a little post-Thanksgiving detox, starting with this Southwestern Corn Chowder.
What I love about this chowder is that it is wonderfully, fantastically, thank-God-because-I’m-tired versatile. Made as-is, it’s spicy, loaded with flavor, and totally meatless, which is rare for a corn chowder. But if you didn’t want a spicy chowder, you could leave out the poblano and jalapeño and add a tablespoon of dried thyme. Or stir in some diced tomato. Or sauté a chopped bell pepper with the onion.
Top it with toasted pumpkin seeds or crumbled tortilla chips.
Stir in a little cheese.
And if you have leftovers or the love of your life needs meat to feel alive, you can stir in some shredded chicken or shrimp and have a whole new soup.
Soup now. Handful of whipped cream later.
So, let’s look into the future one year. What would you like the word to be that describes 2011 for you? I’m leaning towards “miraculous.” Or “topless.”
Southwestern Corn Chowder
From Rebecca Crump (EzraPoundCake.com)
Makes 10 to 12 servings
- 2 medium poblano peppers, cut in half and seeded
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (optional, but needed for a really thick soup)
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- 2 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
- 6 cups corn kernels (frozen or cut from 6 ears of corn)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeño (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Garnishes (optional): grated cheddar cheese, toasted pepitas, chives, cilantro, diced tomato, tortilla chips
- To Roast the Poblanos: Preheat the broiler. Place peppers, skin sides up, on a baking sheet lined with foil. Broil 15 minutes or until the skin is blistered and blackened, turning frequently. Place peppers in a zip-top plastic bag, seal the bag, and let it stand for 10 minutes. Peel and chop. Transfer to a food processor.
- Using a food processor, finely chop the poblano, onion, carrot and celery. Set aside.
- In a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, combine the butter and olive oil.
- When the butter melts, add the finely chopped vegetables and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are soft, about 6 minutes.
- Add the flour, and stir to combine.
- Add the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil.
- Stir in the half-and-half and milk, and add the potatoes. Return the mixture to a boil until the potatoes get soft, about 7 minutes.
- Add the corn. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer 15 minutes.
- If you’d like to thicken the soup, process half of the mixture by using an immersion blender or transferring it to a food processor or blender and then adding it back to the pot.
- Stir in the jalapeño. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle chowder into bowls, garnish (if you wish), and serve immediately.