This vegan corn chowder is all about the corn, which makes September through October a great time to enjoy it. The corn is still coming in strong and the weather has cooled off giving a big welcome to hearty soups like this one. A ripe red jalapeño or Fresno pepper adds a little kick and plays well with the rich natural sweetness and creaminess that comes from blending a portion of the cooked corn. The onion, garlic and spices add depth and roundness, but allow the corn to remain forward. Making corn cob stock from the cobs for the liquid adds more corn flavor and can be made while you start with the other steps or ahead of time.
Removing the Corn Kernels from the Cob
Removing the corn kernels from the cobs is easily done with a standard chef knife and a wide shallow prep bowl. Cut the pointed end of the cob so it is flat and leave the stalk part on the opposites side to hold onto whiles you make the cuts. Place the cob in the bowl with the flat part of the cob on the bottom of the bowl. Holding the top of the cob straight up or a t at 60 degree angle from the bowl bottom, cut the kernels straight down to about 1 in above the bottom of the cob on all four sides of the cob. Then turn it over and cut the remaining kernels. If you cut all the way down the cob, the knife can hit the bowl and slip, not good.
Another method of removing the kernels is with a mandoline. Some of the hand mandolines don’t have a wide enough setting to cut the full kernels. The classic French mandoline at it’s highest setting is wide enough for most corn cobs. Run the cob through on all sides.
Potatoes for Vegan Corn Chowder
Yukon gold potatoes are so good in soups and chowders because they hold their texture for longer cooking times and because they have a nice flavor. Yukon gold potatoes are readily available throughout the year at grocery stores. In our area, Northern California, Yukon gold potatoes are available throughout the year at Farmers markets. Red skinned potatoes are good in this chowder too, they will just start to fall apart sooner. I purposely don’t blend the potatoes in this vegan corn chowder because it is too easy to over blend. When Yukon gold potatoes are over blended, it makes for a gummy texture in the chowder.
Early Fall Corn Chowder
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4 ears of corn husked
1 yellow onion, diced finely
1 red jalapeno pepper or 1 red Fresno pepper
4 cloves of garlic, grated
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
3 cups of water (preferably hot)
1 Tbls sweet miso (optional)
6 cups corn cob stock (preferably hot)
1 lb Yukon Gold or Red potatoes ( 4–6 depends on size) peeled or scrubbed really well and diced to bite size.
Corn Cob Stock
4 corn cobs, kernels cut off for the soup
3–4 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
1/2 onion rough chopped (the ends of onions will also do)
1 Tbls of whole cumin
1 Tbls whole coriander
10–12 whole black peppercorns.
9 cups water
Tools I Use: Chef's knife; cutting board; shallow prep bowl; mandoline (optional); Dutch oven or stock pot; grater; hand blender or standard blender
Early Fall Corn Chowder
Cut the corn kernels off the cobs. Cutting the pointed end of the cob so it is flat when standing up vertical and placing the cob in a shallow wide bowl helps keep the kernels from flying about. Alternatively, you can run the cobs through a mandoline to remove the kernels from the cobs. If you are making the corn cob stock you can start that now then continue to step 2 below.
Heat a stock pot or Dutch oven to medium.
When the pan is ready, add all of the onion and sautee for few minutes, until the onions start to turn translucent.
Add the jalapeño or Fresno pepper and sautée for 1 or 2 more minutes.
Make a space in the center of the pan and add the grated garlic. Make a thin layer of garlic on the pan by pushing it down with the edge of a spatula. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and just starting to turn golden, but not browned, about 1 or 2 minutes.
Add the ground cumin and coriander and stir. Let heat through until the spices become frangrant.
Add the corn kernels and stir well to coat the kernels with the onion, garlic, red pepper and spices.
Pour in the 3 cups of hot water slowly, while stirring the mixture.
Put the lid on the pan, bring to a boil for just a minute or so, then turn the heat down so that it is simmering (just below boiling) and cook the corn mixture for 10 minutes.
If the corn is still not cooked through and too firm continue to cook a little more. Starchier corn takes a little longer.
Then blend the corn: If using a hand blender, add the miso if using and 1 cup of drained corn kernels at a time to the blender cup. Let cool a little before blending. Wrap a towel or paper towel around the stick above the cup so it won’t splatter out. Start by pulsing first, then blend until smooth. Pour the creamy mixture back in the soup.
If using a standard blender, put the miso if using and 2 cups of corn with a small amount of the liquid in the blender and let cool for at least 5 minutes before blending. Stir occasionally to release steam. Put the blender lid on and hold it down with a kitchen towel while blending. Alternatively, place a towel over the lid before blending, blend for just a couple seconds, then remove the lid to release some of the steam. Repeat one or two more times if there is still a lot of steam. Then, continue to blend until smooth and pour the creamy mixture back into the soup pot.
Slowly pour in 6 cups of stock to the pot, while stirring.
Add the diced potatoes, stir well.
Continue to simmer until the potatoes are done through. You can check the potatoes with a knife or toothpick which should go easily through the potato cubes without resistance.
Garnish with diced mild or piquante red pepper if desired.
Corn Cob Stock
Remove the kernels from the cobs and set aside the kernels for the soup or dish you are preparing or place in refrigerator until ready to use.
Heat a stock pot to medium.
Add the corn cobs, garlic, onion and spices and cook until fragrant (don’t allow to get dark or burn, not tasty in a stock)
Add the water and bring to a boil. Some water will evaporate during the simmering leaving about 7–8 cups when the stock is finished.
Once at a boil, lower heat to adjust for a simmer (light rolling boil) and simmer with the lid on for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 11/2 hours.
The corn cob stock is now ready for your soup. But, if not using immediately, allow to cool. Strain and place in containers for refrigerator or freezer loosely covered until cool enough to store in the refrigerator or freezer. The corn cob stock will last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for 2–3 months.
SOS free version: Omit the miso. Sprinkle the potatoes with onion/garlic blend and/or ground cumin.