Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Popcorn Soup (Roasted Corn Chowder)

Roasted Corn Chowder (Popcorn Soup)

This is not the Popcorn Soup of my childhood; that was made with canned corns, both whole kernel and creamed varieties, plenty of processed cheese and no other vegetables that I can recall. What made that meal a special event at home was the simple addition of a big bowl of Popcorn right in the middle of the table. You just grabbed a handful, let it fall into your soup and ate it up before all the Popcorn melted away into cheesy, corny goodness. Don’t fret, it was the 60’s and we all washed our hands before coming to the table – or else!

Now when I make a Corn Chowder I use fresh and unprocessed ingredients (okay I do buy dairy and Chipotles in Adobo from the grocer), but I still love to have a big batch of Popcorn to put on top and watch it melt away. It’s one family tradition that continues at our house.

This version of Popcorn Soup features another summer favorite – Roasted Sweet Corn on the Cob along with an assortment of peppers and a host of other Chowder ingredients.

Popcorn Soup (Roasted Corn Chowder)
Serves: 6     Preparation Time: 30 Minutes     Cooking Time: 1 Hour


6 Ears Sweet Corn, husks intact
1 Quart Cold Water
• 2 Cups Chicken Stock, if not home-made use a low-sodium store brand
• 1 medium Onion, roughly chopped
• 2 Ribs Celery, roughly chopped
• 1 Anaheim pepper, roughly chopped
• 3 Cloves Garlic, smashed +1 Clove, minced
• Kosher Salt
• 1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
• ¼ Cup Sour Cream
• ½ Teaspoon Adobo Sauce from Chipotle Peppers
• ¼ Teaspoon Lime Juice
• 2 Cups Small Red Potatoes, unpeeled, cut into ½” dice
• 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
• 1 Sweet Onion, cut into ½” dice
• 1 Chipotle Pepper from a jar in Adobo Sauce, minced
• ½ Red Bell Pepper, cut into ½” dice
• ½ Green Bell Pepper, cut into ½” dice
• 4 Slices of Thick Cut Bacon, cut into ½” pieces
• 1 Cup Heavy Cream
• 1 Pound White Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
• ½ Cup White Popping Corn

Preparation Steps

Step 1. Put the Sweet Corn in cold water to soak while you heat a barbecue grill to medium-high.

Step 2. Put the corn on the grill and cook for 40 minutes, rotating the ears ¼ turn every 10 minutes to brown evenly. Allow the corn to cool then remove the husks and cut the kernels from the cobs. Reserve the kernels and the cobs.

Step 3. In a 5 quart sauce pan, place the reserve corn cobs, Cold Water, Chicken Stock, Onion, Celery, Anaheim Pepper, 3 cloves of roughly chopped Garlic, 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt and 1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat, immediately reduce the heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes.

Step 4. In a small bowl, mix the Sour Cream with the Adobo Sauce, Lime juice and ¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt. Cover the mixture and let it rest while the stock simmers. After the stock has simmered for 45 minutes, strain out and dispose of all the solids and set the stock aside. Taste the Sour Cream mixture and add more Adobo if desired.

Step 5. Heat the same 5 quart sauce pan over medium heat and cook the diced Bacon until done, but not completely crisp. Remove Bacon to drain on a paper towel and reserve 1 tablespoon of the Bacon drippings in the sauce pan. Dispose of the rest of the drippings.

Step 6.
Melt 2 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter into the remaining 1 tablespoon of Bacon drippings and add the diced Onions and all of the Peppers. Cook while stirring until the Onion begins to wilt then add the Garlic and the cooked Bacon. Cook stirring for another 2 minutes.

Step 7. Add the prepared stock and the Potatoes to the sauce pan and increase the heat to medium-high to bring to a boil. Cook until the Potatoes are tender then stir in the Corn kernels. Just when the pan begins to simmer again reduce the heat to medium and add the Heavy Cream and stir to incorporate.

Step 8. When the mixture begins to simmer again, reduce the heat to low and stir in the White Cheddar Cheese in 3 batches. Stirring until each batch is completely melted and absorbed into the Chowder before adding the next. Once all of the Cheese is incorporated, adjust the seasonings if desired. Cover the Chowder and remove from the heat.

Step 9.
Pop the Popping Corn using your preferred method; do not add butter to the popped corn.

Serve the Chowder with the Adobo Sour Cream on the side and the “Popcorn” as croutons.

Roasted Corn Chowder (Popcorn Soup)
Tips and Trending

~ If “husk on” sweet corn isn’t available you can substitute fresh pre-husked corn from the grocery store or even frozen corn on the cob. (A recipe like this is a great reason to freeze fresh when we can!) If your corn doesn’t come naturally wrapped don’t fret – wrap each ear in aluminum foil and roast away as directed above.

~ When I roast corn on the grill as a dish unto itself, I soak the ears, with the husks intact for an hour. For this recipe however, the quick soak in water while the grill is heating will help to steam the corn while not water logging the cobs and allowing them to flavor the stock.

~ As with any hot peppers, Chipotles will vary in their “hotness” from batch to batch. For this reason, my recipe incorporates only 1 pepper to start. If you’d like a little more pizazz in the Chowder, you can add another minced Chipotle at the very end. Since they are already prepared by the process used to turn them from Jalapenos into Chipotles with Adobo, you can add them at this time. Do note, however, that the additional Adobo Sauce will greatly increase the Southwestern note already present in the Chowder. You may wish to rinse off this “late arrival” pepper.

~ You can flavor your “croutons” by tossing the just prepared hot popcorn with a little garlic powder, onion powder, or chili powder. If you want the popcorn salty use the superfine variety sold near the popcorn at your grocer. Kosher or even regular table salt will not cling to the unbuttered popcorn kernels.

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