Local corn is starting to show up at my big-box grocery store, and that makes me really happy. Western Pennsylvania grows some of the best corn in the country, and no matter how often I eat it — which is a lot — I can’t get enough.
When you’ve tired of eating it off the cob, or just want to add some variety, try this luscious roast corn chowder. It’s rich, creamy and a little bit smoky, thanks to the addition of smoked paprika. Spiced maple corn adds a crunchy, crouton-like garnish, and depending on how much red pepper flakes you use, a touch of sweet heat.
For even more corn flavor, don’t toss out the cobs after you strip them of kernels. Add them to the pot along with the potatoes but remove before serving.
If the chowder is too thick, add a little more milk, half-and-half or water to thin it to the desired consistency.
Creamy roast corn chowder
3 ears of corn
Extra-virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, divided
½ red bell pepper, diced
2 spring onion, diced
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tablespoon flour or cornstarch
2 cups milk
1 cup half-and-half
Handful baby potatoes, scrubbed clean and diced
Pinch or 2 red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Place corn cobs on a cookie tray and rub all over with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then roast in oven for 30 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden.
Remove from oven and when cool enough to handle, remove kernels from cob with a sharp knife and reserve.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan, along with a little olive oil, and add diced pepper, onion, paprika, bay leaf and thyme. Cook until pepper is tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in flour or cornstarch and cook until raw smell is gone, about 30 seconds, then add milk and cream. Stir to combine. Add potatoes and 1⁄2 of the corn. Bring to a simmer and cook until potato is easily pierced with fork but still holds it shape, about 10 minutes.
While soup is simmering, add remaining 1 tablespoon butter to a small frying pan and add the reserved corn, a pinch or two of chili flakes (depending on how spicy you like it) and maple syrup.
Cook for about 1 minute to coat the corn until all is sticky, then remove from heat. Remove to a parchment-lined tray and allow to cool.
Remove bay leaf and thyme stalk from chowder and stir in mustard and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve chowder with some spiced maple corn scattered on top and garnished with parsley.
Makes 4 servings.
— Adapted from “The Flexible Vegetarian” by Jo Pratt (Frances Lincoln, $35)