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West Town Tavern Wild Mushroom Chowder

20 Dec

This is one of those beautiful soup recipes that can be created 100% from your local farmers market produce, even in the thick of winter.  Onions, potatoes, garlic, mushrooms and herbs are some of the staple items these markets build on in winter (plus a wonderful selection of bread, cheese and jarred goods).  This week I went a little crazy at the River Valley Ranch mushroom stand and purchased about 6 pounds of mushrooms for my Mushroom-Asparagus Strata which I plan to make for our weekly supper club which is themed Breakfast for Dinner this week,  for a green bean casserole I plan to make for Christmas (more to come on these in the next few days), and for this soup.  I had the poor guy at the stand separating Creminis, Shitakes and Oysters into 3 separate bags of various sizes, rummaging through my list while I counted pounds off on my fingers.  Needless to say, Tom crept back into the crowd, ashamed of my torture of the local mushroom man  and my embarrassingly horrible mental math skills.   I was embarrassed not in the least!  It’s winter, I’m carrying my coat and my hat and my scarf, a new bottle of hot sauce, a bag of lettuce…and I could hardly be his most difficult customer of the day…right? I also picked up a new barrel-aged hot sauce from my new favorite local hot sauce supplier CO-OP (who also makes a great Ghost Pepper and Grapefruit hot sauce which I have been unable to stop raving about for weeks).

The aromas emanating from this soup while cooking are reason enough to make it.  It just smells so good.  I was actually a little concerned in the early stages of cooking that the dish would be overwhelmingly rich but it is actually very well-rounded, subtly highlights each of the individual flavors.  Tom’s 8 year-old nephew even finished the bowl.  The addition of Worcestershire and sherry (or red wine) brings out the earthy flavors of the mushrooms and the hot sauce adds a nice, gentle kick (although I doubled the hot sauce).  If you still have not picked up the Soup & Bread Cookbook, get out there and pick it up.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped

4 cups chopped mixed mushrooms

1 1/2 cups carrot, finely diced

2 1/3 cups peeled potato, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed, minced

1/2 cup sherry or dry red wine

5 1/3 cup vegetable broth or water

2 large bay leaves

4 sprigs thyme

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot sauce

Sauté: Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until tender and slightly browned (7 minutes).  Add mushrooms, cover and cook on a lower heat until the juices release from the mushrooms (5 minutes).  Uncover, raise the heat to medium and cook until the mushrooms are tender (7-10 minutes).

Reduce: Add carrots, potatoes and garlic and stir.  Add wine or sherry and cook until the vegetables are coated and the sauce has reduced to a glaze (2-3 minutes).

Boil: Add broth or water.  Add springs of thyme and bay leaves, preferably tied so as to easily be removed.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer until all vegetables are tender (20 minutes).  Remove bay leaves and thyme.  Puree one cup of the soup in a food processor or puree slightly with an immersion blender.  Chowder should remain slightly chunky but the puree will add a heartier texture to the broth.

Cream and Season: Add cream and return to boil.  Reduce to medium and boil until slightly reduced (10 minutes).  Add Worcestershire sauce.  Season soup with salt, pepper and hot sauce.  Garnish with croutons and chopped fresh thyme.

Adapted from West Town Tavern Wild Mushroom Chowder by Susan Goss as published in the Soup & Bread Cookbook.

 


Haitian Independence Soup

14 Nov

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 yellow onion, small diced

2 carrots, small diced

3 ribs celery, small diced

1 turnip, peeled and diced

1 large potato, peeled and diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

1 cube vegetable bouillon

SOFTEN: Place cubed butternut squash in large pot.  Cover with water and add sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer until squash is completely softened (15-20 minutes).

PUREE: Using an immersion blender (or blender or food processor) puree water, sugar and butternut squash combination until smooth.  Set aside and keep warm.

SAUTE: Heat 1 spin of olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Add carrots, celery and onion.  Saute until softened (5-7 minutes).  Add turnips, potatoes and salt & pepper (as desired).  Stir and cook for another few minutes (3-5 minutes).  Add garlic, stir and cook one additional minute.

SIMMER: Add butternut square puree to the other veggies.  Add water to desired consistency, if needed.  Add bouillon cube, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste.  Stir in cilantro.  Simmer together, the longer the better (at least 15-20 minutes).

Adapted from Chantal Powell in Soup & Bread Cookbook

This is the first recipe in the newly published Soup & Bread Cookbook.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Soup & Bread, be sure to check them out.  S&B was started by Martha Bayne who was bored of spending cold, not-so-busy Wednesday nights tending bar at The Hideout so she invited some friends by to make some soup, share, mingle and eat.  She encourages local professional and amateur chefs to bring crockpots filled with their favorite soup or some tasty loaves of bread to share.  Everyone pitches in a donation which is then given to local charities, particularly the Chicago Food Depository.  She also has plenty of tips for getting similar initiatives started in other cities.   S&B is a great homage to soup itself, which has been building community, stretching foods to help ease hunger and keeping us warm through many winters.   Be sure to come out for the next S&B series in Chicago which starts this January.   The S&B Cookbook is a compilation of favorite soups brought to S&B over the years, with helpful tips and entertaining stories on using soup to foster community building.

This recipe is absolutely delicious.  Adding just a touch of sugar to the butternut squash as it boils adds a subtle sweetness, almost similar to sweet potatoes.  I added a little cayenne pepper which created a nice balance of spicy and sweet.  I love the simplicity, adding only cilantro to spice it up; yet simmering the cilantro into the soup prevented the cilantro from overpowering the it which I’ve found cilantro has a tendency to do.  Great start to an excellent cookbook.  More soup recipes to come..it’s only November.

Spicy Tomato Salsa

11 Sep

9 dried chili peppers

Hot water

12 cups diced cored peeled tomatoes (1/2 inch/1 cm dice) * See How to Peel Tomatoes.

3 cups chopped red onion

1 1/2 cups tightly packed, finely chopped cilantro

15  cloves garlic, finely chopped

6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped * If you like your salsas extra spicy, leave in all or a portion of the seeds and membranes.

3/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tbsp salt

3/4 tsp hot pepper flakes

1. In a heatproof glass or stainless steel bowl, combine dried chilies with hot water to cover.  Weigh chilies down with a bowl or a weight to ensure they remain submerged, and soak until softened, about 15 minutes.  Drain off half the water.  Transfer chilies and remaining water to a blender or a food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree until smooth.

2. Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.

3. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine chili puree, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno peppers, vinegar, salt and hot pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

4. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot salsa.  Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

5. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process both 8-ounce and pint jars for 15 minutes.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving, Edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine.

I haven’t been able to stop talking and thinking about Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which chronicles the year she and her family  committed to eating 100% local produce.  She talks about asparagus the way some men talk about women in fishnets; and I can tell you, I’ve been as excited to see asparagus in local markets after a long, food-dull winter as many are to see beer, nachos and Bears football today. Maybe the book has stuck with me because I share her utter excitement in juicy, sweet tomatoes after months of unripened, tasteless toms from god-knows-where at grocery stores, but really, it’s just that she makes it sound so incredibly easy and doable.  And it turns out, it is.

I don’t live on a farm and I share my yard with 6 other units (currently 11 people total) so although the City of Chicago does allow its residents to raise and keep both chickens and roosters on their property within city limits, I figured all 11 neighbors would not be welcoming to a little brood of chickens between the 3 grills,2 tables and my garden.  Space is tight as it is.  These were the sorts of things I thought immediately as she described ordering her little box of chickens and the variety of wild turkeys for her property.  Literally every can-not that I’ve come up with has been followed by a very easy solution in the city.  For example, Gene’s Sausage Shop and Delicatessen, which is 3 blocks from my house, sells free range, organic chickens from a farm in Wisconsin and there are nearly always local eggs and meat at the farmers markets (and there is a farmers market somewhere in this city every day of the week).  I haven’t fully boarded the all-local-bandwagon (it’s so hard to resist avocados in summer) but I would estimate that well over 80% of the items I’ve cooked at home this summer have been local.

So as fall is setting in, I’m contemplating how to continue supporting local farming and how to save the tastes of summer.  This weekend was momentous because I finally started jarring.  This was yet another task that I had found completely daunting, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy and, between you and me, fun it can be.  I started with this salsa recipe but I also made a peach salsa that I hope to post soon.  It’s so convenient to have homemade salsa available when you need it and each of the individual ingredients shine in the homemade salsa rather than condensing into a homogenous stew like many of the store-bought options.  If it seems like too much work for you alone, get friends together to split the jars (this recipe makes 12 8-oz jars).  And I happen to know the local Ace Hardware on Lincoln Avenue is having a sale on jars and canners through the end of the month.  I’m happy to burst your can-not bubble, but no excuses,  you can do it too.

Spicy Corn and Crab Chowder

23 Aug

1 medium poblano chile
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (16-ounce) package frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup half-and-half, divided
1 (8-ounce) russet potato, peeled and chopped
2 cups water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 (8-ounce) container crab claw meat, shell pieces removed

1. Preheat broiler.
2. Place poblano on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 8 minutes on each side or until blackened. Place pepper in a small zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and chop.
3. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 3 ingredients (through red pepper) to pan; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn; sauté 2 minutes. Remove 3/4 cup corn mixture from pan. Combine 3/4 cup corn mixture and 3/4 cup half-and-half in a blender; process until smooth. Add potato to pan; sauté 1 minute. Stir in 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Cook 4 minutes or until potato is almost tender. Reduce heat to medium.

4. Combine remaining 1/4 cup half-and-half and flour in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Add flour mixture to pan. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return corn puree to pan. Stir in poblano, milk, and crab; bring to a simmer. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Julianna Grimes, Cooking Light, August, 2010

As you may know, my favorite things to cook are breads, pies and soups.  So, when the weather turned chilly (and by chilly I mean high 70s to low 80s, but it’s all relative, right?) I wasted no time getting back to chop-stir-simmer-enjoy business.  I love that you can leave most soups to boil away, filling the house with complex yet comforting aromas and a steamy heat you can’t find anywhere else.   As such, I was a little disappointed to find that while this chowder did provide the hoped-for olfactory excitement,  it did require quite a bit of hands-on time and sagged on flavor.   The lack of sit-and-simmer time  may have contributed to the disappointing outcome of the chowder in which the flavors both failed to come together or to shine individually.  I love poblanos and could barely taste them.

If I made this again, I would add additional poblanos, sweet peppers, potatoes and possibly even bacon to to add a little something extra.  I would decrease the milk added in the last step as it seems a little watered down or, well, milky.  I would also add some additional spices such as thyme, chili powder or paprika (though not all at once) to spice it up a bit.   This could make for a good base upon which to develop a more complex chowder, but let’s face it, there’s much better recipes out there already.

Easy Summer Pico de Gallo

4 Jul

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 mangos, peeled, seeded and chopped

1-2 jalapenos (depending on your spice-tolerance/preference), seeded and finely chopped

3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1 lime

2 avocados

1. Combine chopped tomatoes, red onion, mango, jalapeno and cilantro in a medium-sized bowl.  Add fresh-squeezed juice from 1 lime.  Stir to combine.  Add salt to taste.  Place mixture in the refrigerator until ready to serve, preferably overnight.

2. Before serving, add chopped avocados and stir to combine.  Serve with tortilla chips.

I have to give primary credit for this recipe to Mary McMullin who asked me to come up with a salsa to serve with simple grilled chicken breasts, using her 2 mangos, a few tomatoes and an avocado.  I insisted that we add onion and jalapeno to spice it up and have since added the lime which helps to preserve the ingredients and adds a nice citrusy splash.  I just served this on a camping trip in Michigan.  I divided the batch into two servings, tossed them in the cooler and added 1 avocado per serving to keep it fresh.  Great way to use those farmer’s market tomatoes and serve a big crowd.  You can also mix it up by adding different peppers such as any bell pepper or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

Risotto with Spring Vegetables

27 Apr

2 cups shelled fava beans (about 1 1/2 pounds unshelled)
1/2 cup fresh green peas
4 cups chicken or veggie stock2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 cup uncooked Carnaroli or Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
1/2 cup white wine
8 ounces thin asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Cook beans in boiling water 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Remove tough outer skins from beans; discard skins. Cook peas in boiling water 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well.
2. Bring Homemade Chicken Stock to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallots and carrot to pan; cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add rice and saffron; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 30 seconds or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup stock; cook 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Stir in fava beans, peas, and asparagus with last addition of stock. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper.

David Bonom, Cooking Light, May 2010

This risotto is absolutely perfect for those cool, rainy April days we’ve been having in Chicago.  It incorporates plenty of early-spring produce that’s now popping up in local farmers markets, including asparagus, carrots, fava beans, onion and peas.  The white wine and saffron enhance these fresh veggies and the Parmesan adds a nice floral zing.

In case you’re new to the wonderful world of fava beans, as many Americans are, here is a little background.  Fava beans are one of the oldest beans around, originating approximately 3000 BC.  They’ve been a staple in Europe and Asia for centuries, but have remained fairly obscure in the U.S.  As such, there are a little overpriced in our markets, but still doable.  I’ve also found a newfound love of cooking with fava beans because they are so satisfying to shell; the beans are big enough that they don’t get lost in the process and they pop out really easily.  They have a buttery and slightly bitter taste and add quite a bit of texture to this and any other dish.

This is a great weeknight meal but, as with any risotto, be prepared to spend some time hovering over the warm stove.  I’m a major wimp compared those strong Italian women and after cooking risotto my arm is always tired and I’m hot as hell.  No worries, there will be cold white wine at hand.

Fusilli with Caramelized Spring Onions and White Wine

26 Apr

1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons minced garlic, divided

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

2 cups thinly sliced spring onions (about 1 pound)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

8 ounces uncooked fusilli (short twisted spaghetti)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine panko, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon garlic, and a dash of salt in a small bowl. Spread panko mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 375° for 6 minutes or until golden brown, stirring after 3 minutes. Cool.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add onions to pan; cook 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 1 teaspoon garlic and wine. Increase heat to medium-high; cook 1 minute. Add broth; cook until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup (about 4 minutes).

4. Cook pasta in boiling water with 1 tablespoon kosher salt according to package directions, omitting additional fat. Drain. Add pasta, remaining salt, and pepper to onion mixture; toss gently. Place about 1 cup pasta in each of 4 shallow bowls; sprinkle each serving with 2 tablespoons panko mixture.

Rori Trovato, Cooking Light, April 2011

I am always a sucker for a nice white wine reduction sauce and this one is no exception.  The caramelized sweet onions never overpowered, but added a little spice and a complexly sweet and hearty flavor.   I substituted veggie broth and used a basic sweet white onion.  The soft, sweet onions are complemented perfectly by the crisp, slightly salty panko crumbs on top.  I absolutely loved the simplicity.  I recommend serving with a dry white wine and a simple salad of greens with a nice vinaigrette.

I just got an awesome pear balsamic vinegar that a friend brought back from Olive & Kickin’ in Asheville, NC that I’ve been eating on all of my salads ever since.  It goes perfect with this dish!  I also tried their sweet cherry balsamic and it was delicious on both salads and as a little marinade for grilled mushrooms.  I will definitely make it a destination if I’m ever in the area and you should too.  They apparently have excellent olive oils as well.

Southwestern-Style Shrimp Taco Salad

18 Apr
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle hot sauce
  • 3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 ears shucked corn
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 ounces baked blue corn tortilla chips (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/3 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup diced peeled avocado
  • Lime wedges (optional)

1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

2. Combine lime juice, olive oil, cumin, garlic, syrup, and hot sauce in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place the shrimp in a shallow bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the lime juice mixture over shrimp, tossing gently to coat. Reserve the remaining lime juice mixture; set aside. Thread shrimp onto metal skewers. Lightly coat corn with cooking spray. Place shrimp kebabs and corn on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 8 minutes, turning kebabs once and turning corn frequently until browned. Remove from grill; cool slightly.

3. Remove shrimp from skewers, and place in a large bowl. Cut kernels from ears of corn. Add corn, chopped lettuce, green onions, cilantro, black beans, and plum tomatoes to shrimp. Drizzle reserved lime juice mixture over the shrimp mixture, and toss gently to combine.

4. Divide tortilla chips evenly among 6 shallow bowls; top each serving with 1 cup shrimp mixture. Combine sour cream and diced avocado in a small bowl; mash with a fork until well blended. Top each serving with about 1 tablespoon sour cream mixture. Serve with a lime wedge, if desired.

Margee Berry, Trout Lake, Washington, Cooking Light
MAY 2010

One of my Summer 2011 cooking goals is to move beyond the basics of brats and burgers on the grill so this recipe was a great way to get started.  The most novice of grillers could easily perform the grilling part of this recipe.  I prepped all of the ingredients for the salad, created the marinade and prepared the shrimp and corn before heading outside to grill.  I didn’t have to make a single trip back upstairs which is always appreciated since I live on the third floor and our grill is in the yard.  My boyfriend and I also had time to sneak in two games of bags while the grill heated up and the food cooked.  We got to spend some time outside in the fading sunlight, have a few beers and when we were done, it was a snap to throw it all together.

The marinade is delicious in its own right.  We had a full pound of shrimp so we snacked on a few while we were cooking and they were absolutely delicious.  The Chipotle hot sauce and fire-roasted corn add a nice smoky spice to the entire dish.  It was a lovely bit of summer…

and then it snowed overnight.  My poor garden!

Vegetable Frittata

2 Mar

  • 3 large eggs, plus 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat cottage cheese
  • 4 ounces smoked gouda cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped Kosher salt
  • 1 16-ounce package frozen mixed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and carrots), thawed
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 scant teaspoon paprika
  • 4 slices multigrain bread

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Whisk the whole eggs and whites in a bowl. Add the cottage cheese and whisk until almost smooth. Whisk in the gouda and rosemary.

Cook the garlic in the olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until it starts to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onion, season with salt and cook 2 minutes. Add the vegetables, increase the heat to high and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium. Spread the egg mixture evenly in the pan. Cook, undisturbed, until a thin crust forms on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Run a rubber spatula around the edge to release the egg from the pan. Continue cooking until the bottom is golden, 2 to 3 more minutes. Sprinkle with the parmesan and paprika; transfer to the oven and bake until just set, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover and let sit, 5 to 7 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve with the bread.

Food Network Magazine, March 2011

This is the perfect recipe for those sunny yet chilly February mornings.  The rosemary adds piney, earthy tones and the gouda adds smoke, bringing back flavors of fall and winter.  At the same time, the wealth of veggies adds a fresh, complex flavor, hearkening much-needed spring.

I used the Harvest Blend of frozen veggies from Trader Joe’s which includes watercress, baby corn, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and whole green beans.  You could also use fresh veggies, whichever veggies you prefer,  just be sure to saute in a little olive oil until tender before adding to the frittata.  I would also recommend cutting the onion in half because the whole onion has the potential to overpower the mild eggs.

Pepper-Corn Chowder

14 Feb
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup  chopped onion
  • 1 leek, cleaned and chopped
  • 5 cups  loose-pack frozen whole kernel corn
  • 2 14-ounce cans  reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 medium  red sweet pepper, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon  ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon  cayenne pepper
  • 3 threads  saffron (optional)
  • Snipped fresh chives and/or ground black pepper (optional)

Coat a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium heat about 1 minute. Add onion and leek; cook about 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Add corn. Cook about 5 minutes or until corn softens, stirring occasionally. Add 1 can of the chicken broth. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until the corn is very tender. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Transfer half the corn mixture to a blender or food processor; cover and blend or process until smooth. Return the pureed corn mixture to mixture in the Dutch oven.

Add the remaining 1 can broth, the sweet pepper, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, cayenne pepper, and, if desired, saffron. Heat through. If desired, garnish with snipped fresh chives and/or additional ground black pepper.

Better Homes & Gardens, February 2010

Overall this chowder has a nice sweet and spicy flavor.  The jalapeño and cayenne add the perfect amount of heat and a hint of smokiness.  The colors make it inviting and springy.  In fact, this is the perfect soup for spring because it’s not too thick or heavy and it culminates some of the best flavors of summer with the corn/pepper combo.

I did make some modifications.  I added half an jalapeno at the same time I added the corn.  I also used an immersion blender rather than blending half in a blender/food processor because I thought it would be easier.  If you use this method, simply blend until you reach the desired consistency.  As usual, I used veggie broth instead of chicken broth to make it vegetarian-friendly and I might recommend adding just a touch of salt if you take this option.

I also recommend adding all of the broth after cooking the corn to allow the flavors more time to meld.  I thought the soup was better left over but adding all of the broth before cooking would have likely had the same effect.