Labor Day may have signaled the unofficial end of summer, but the heat is still jockeying for position despite the growing cooler days. The selection at the farmers market reflects that seasonal transition. Tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant are still most prominent with limited cartons of raspberries among the supporting players. Lately I have spotted more buckets of apples in all sorts of varieties along side half gallons of cider for sale. It is only a matter of time before squash and other root vegetables take over.
Yesterday J. and I huddled under an umbrella as we made our way through rows of produce at the market. A “last of the season” sign on a pile of corn caught my attention. In that moment I thought sweet corn chowder would be the best way to savor what was left of a favorite summer staple. I simmered the naked cobs in water to maximize their flavor potential creating a corn stock. The simple soup was a hearty lunch and the perfect bright spot on a dreary day.
6 ears corn, shucked, kernels removed and cobs reserved
2 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Place the cobs and thyme in a large stockpot and add enough water to cover the cobs by 1/2-inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Discard the cobs and thyme sprigs and set aside the stock.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes until they start to soften and then add the garlic. Continue sautéing for 2 minutes, and then stir in the flour. Add the reserved stock, kernels and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
Carefully transfer half the chowder to a blender and puree. Return the puree to the saucepan and warm the chowder. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender to puree to desired consistency.) Season with salt and pepper. Divide into 4 soup bowls and serve immediately.