Today was the first day in Chicago that really felt like fall. I had a bowl of warm oatmeal rather than my greek yogurt/granola combo of summer. Suddenly shorts and a tank are no longer suitable running attire and sleeves are necessary. The sidewalks are laced with the first fallen leaves and the sun begins to set at 6:30 rather than closer to 8. Although I really was jipped with a summer (bar exam, few “warm” days), I am looking forward to the change in seasons.
Often times when I tell people that I moved to Chicago from Texas, they look at me in disbelief (even more so when this comes up in say, February). People don’t understand why someone would move to a place with months and months of winter but so far I love it. I enjoy living through all 4 seasons and having the leaves turn red in orange around Halloween and Thanksgiving rather than around Valentines and then really relishing the coming of Spring and Summer. One of the best things about early fall is the fact that sweet corn can still be found at the market and the cooler evenings really call for a nice creamy soup with a hunk of bread for dinner. This corn chowder is different from my summer standby but equally as good and is definitely a keeper.
Grilled Corn and Potato Chowder
Adapted from Cooking Light-September 2009
4-5 small red potatoes (about 1 pound), quartered
3 tablespoons butter
4-5 ears of corn
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle chili peppers
3 cups of 1% milk (really whatever you keep on hand)
1/2 cup half-and-half
2-3 springs of fresh thyme
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Turn on the oven to broil. Place potatoes and 2 big pinches of salt in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let boil for 2 minutes. Then remove from heat and let the potatoes stand in the hot water for 5 minutes. Then drain and allow to cool so that you can handle them, then cut into 1/4 inch cubes.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and brush evenly over the shucked corn. Place the corn on a grill pan and place under the broiler for 7 minutes. Turn the corn over and broil for another 7 minutes. (This can also be done on a grill, but I don’t have one and found that this method worked well.) Allow the corn to cool until you can handle. Cut the kernels from the cob. The best way to do this is to take a large bowl and place a smaller nesting bowl in the center to prop up the cob while the larger bowl catches the kernels. Place 1 cup of corn in a food processor and process until smooth.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 3 minutes or until the onion begins to soften. Add 1 pinch of salt and the chipotle peppers, cook for another minute. Stir in the diced potatoes, remaining corn kernels, pureed corn, milk, half-and-half, and thyme sprigs; bring barely to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally. Discard the thyme springs (count to make sure you remember how many you threw in) and stir in the chopped chives and thyme.