Corn and Cheddar Cheese Chowder is one of the first meals I ever made for myself, and it continues to be a beloved favorite ~ I can’t wait for you to try it!
Some recipes just become part of your life. That’s the case with this one. I’ve been making Corn and Cheddar Cheese Chowder ever since I discovered Anna Thomas’ The Vegetarian Epicure in college. The book defined vegetarian cooking for a generation, and even though it predates the current trend toward lower fat foods, many of its recipes remain classics. The book is charmingly written and illustrated, and I highly recommend it. I’m so excited because Anna has agreed to do an interview with TVFGI, so stay tuned later this month, when I’ll chat with her, learn more about The Vegetarian Epicure (which she wrote in college!) and hear about what she’s up to today, which may surprise you.
I make this chowder all year round, but right now is the ideal time to enjoy it, when corn is still fabulous but our thoughts are starting to turn toward fall. Yes, it’s made with cream, but it is hearty enough to be a dinner all by itself. I served ours with earthy Pumpernickel Biscuits. (I’ll be posting the recipe for them on Tuesday) The recipe, below, is slightly adapted from the original, which was inevitable because I have been making it for years and have adjusted it to suit my particular tastes. One thing I have never changed, however, is the unusual combination of sage, cumin seed and nutmeg which gives the soup a unique flavor profile.
- 3 medium white thin skinned potatoes, diced (no need to peel)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp dried sage
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 ears of corn, kernels removed
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 Tbsp flour (leave out for gluten free)
- splash of dry white wine
- 1 1/4 cups cream (or half and half)
- 1 1/2 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (the sharper the better)
- 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
- fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- fresh parsley
- fresh chives
- In a small saucepan, place the potatoes, bay leaves, sage, cumin seed and salt. Add water to just barely cover the potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are mostly cooked but still firm. They will continue cooking in the soup. Add a little more water if the level sinks too low.
- In a stock pot or soup pan, melt the butter and saute the onions until they are softened. Add the flour and cook for a minute. Add the splash of wine and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated. Whisk in the cream, making sure to get all the flour and onions off the bottom of the pan and incorporated into the cream.
- Add the potatoes and their water along with the corn kernels. Add the nutmeg and pepper and bring it up to a simmer. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until the corn is tender. Stir often and make sure it doesn't boil furiously. It should be kept at a gentle simmer.
- Remove the bay leaves and stir in the chopped parsley and chives. Take off the heat, add the cheese and stir until it is melted. It is important to taste the soup now and adjust the seasonings. Serve the soup garnished with a little more chopped chives.
You can definitely cut fat and calories by using whole milk in place of cream, but then I would leave out the wine, which can cause curdling, since milk based soups are more fragile than cream based. Likewise be careful to take the soup off the heat before you add the cheese, or it can curdle as well. This soup is good enough to warrant some experimentation to find your perfect blend. I've made it many different combinations of milk, cream and half and half, depending on my mood. This recipe is slightly adapted from The Vegetarian Epicure, by Anna Thomas
This soup is a simple combination of ingredients that is so good, I hope you give it a try. I like to usher in the fall with a big bowl. For my interview with Anna, though, I think I’ll branch out and choose a recipe that I’ve never tried from The Vegetarian Epicure books, any ideas?