Corn season! When boiling, roasting, and grilling corn for right-off-the-cob eating become tiresome, shave the kernels off the cob and make corn chowder.
Chowder soup was introduced in Newfoundland by Breton fishermen around 1750. The name comes from chaudiere, the pot in which it was cooked. The original was a stew of cod, the provision that gained the fishermen their wages, with salt pork, sometimes clams, and potatoes cooked in milk and thickened with flour or crushed crackers. The name migrated on to other similar soups, to the point where neither seafood nor potatoes were necessarily included, though two of the most renowned American chowders– milky New England clam chowder and tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder still have both. From the landlocked American heartland came a third venerated chowder, one featuring corn rather than potatoes. Here, the Great Plains and the oceans share the bowl in a sublime inter-ecozone blend of seafood and corn. Coming from either east coast or west, corn centers the dish and locks it solidly in summer. Oh, and so quick and easy! The recipe is adapted from my forthcoming Bold: A Cookbook of Big Flavors (co-authored with Susanna Hoffman, Workman, December, 2013).
3 medium ears corn
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, cut into 1/ 4-inch dice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh summer savory or 1/ 2 teaspoon dried
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup white wine
1 pound whitefish fillets, such as cod, haddock, rock cod, or halibut, or salmon, cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 pound jumbo (21/25 count) shrimp, peeled, tails intact, and deveined if necessary
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 thick (1 ½ inches) baguette slices, cut on the diagonal, for serving
1 lime, quartered, for serving
1. Cut the kernels off the corn cobs and place them in a bowl. Holding the cobs over the bowl, scrape them to collect their “milk.” Set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and summer savory and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, wine, fish chunks, corn and its milk, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook until the fish is firm, the corn is tender, and the shrimp is pink and firm, about 4 minutes.
3. Stir in the cream and ladle the chowder into large individual bowls. Garnish each with baguette slices propped up in the bowl and a lime wedge. Serve right away.