How to Make a Surprisingly Excellent Vegetarian Corn Chowder—With Help from The Communion’s Kristy Brown

Corn chowder doesn’t sound like an adventure. A ubiquitous vegetable and a soup that aims to use up any number of ubiquitous stuff – the ubiquitous milk and/or cream, plus other ubiquitous vegetables… should be fine. Not surprising though. And, again, vegan corn chowder—not to belittle one’s dietary choices, but to subtract dairy from the status quo…maybe less good.

Chef Kristy Brown of Seattle’s Stellar Communion makes amazing vegetarian corn chowder. Apologies for the all-caps, but this corn chowder is what makes anyone want to shout about it. To quote myself from January 2021 (because I’ve already raved about this corn chowder): “This excellent soup can fool even the biggest butter-lover: luxurious in texture, yet earthy, sweet. And a little smoky, spicy but sneaky. The star ingredients are joined by a whole supporting cast of sweet potatoes, carrots, celery and onions, served with diagonal-cut slices of plenty of green onions for tangy freshness. December 2020 In the U.S., I even correctly described this vegetarian corn chowder as “fantastic.”

I pestered Brown for the details at the time, and she would only say it was Definitely Vegetarian, that great olive oil comes into play, that it’s clutch to save up a lot of vegetable scraps to make your own vegetable stock, and that the seasoning is its own blend of “like 18 different spices” that he uses. Says Says. She says she’s going to start selling SEZs, and we should all be looking forward to this gift to humanity excitedly.

Brown’s Vegan Corn Chowder is so good that everyone wanted to eat it, so at Communion they had to make it sometimes 20 gallons at a time, and she got sick of it, and she says she’s going to put it on the menu again. But she can’t hold back, or else, she could ever be. Talent is allowed to enjoy it.

Summer is the best season for corn chowder because fresh, local sweet corn is wonderful too, and, if you’re not going to eat it straight off the cob, corn chowder is really the only way to go. Also: Corn chowder served excellently cold in the shade on a hot afternoon, possibly with a glass of rosé (or eaten out of the pot while chilled in front of an open refrigerator at any hour, day or night).

On behalf of all of us, I recently re-chased Brown via text message about her vegan corn chowder, and when she’s not ready to part with the recipe and of course see Saez’s creation. Will not reveal, she gave me some pointers. She uses red onions (I decided to go with both red and yellow ones for my chowder), but she doesn’t recommend ingesting any red onion scraps in homemade vegetable stock (though, per Brown , yellow onions are fine for that purpose). She thumbs up my plan to make a quick-ish vegetable stock using corn cobs and vegetable scraps of the day for those of us who fail to keep a bag of scraps going in the freezer (we Bad!) She also revealed the proper dairy alternative: oat milk. (Also: I mentioned that I don’t like green bell peppers because they make me burps of green peppers, which he did ha-had. And – guess what – the great Kristy Brown doesn’t like green peppers, OR So, so all the rest of you who are officially wrong.)

I’m just going to state the obvious that the vegan corn chowder I’ve prepared isn’t quite as great as the brownies. However, it is very, very good and absolutely worth making. Maybe someday he’ll tell us his recipe and/or Sze’s recipe. I’d encourage you to experiment with the spices here – I’ve kept mine very light, although a little zip comes from the cayenne pepper. Like Brown, this corn chowder develops beautifully with reheating, thickening, and rich (a word, of course) if you don’t eat it all at once (or eat all the leftovers cold).

Choose your corn carefully. The leaves should be nice and green, not dry looking, and ideally the succulents that stand out should also be yellow and slightly sticky. Be courageous in peeling back the husk—not just at the ends, but all the way down. You deserve good corn! Look for thick, firm kernels. And be sure to buy our amazing Washington Sweet Corn, because it’s the best, because I’m sure Brown would agree if I bothered him about it.

BJC’s Vegetarian Corn Chowder – with thanks to Chef Kristy Brown
Serves 6 as a soup course, perhaps 4 for lunch or a light dinner

OK, vegans, please don’t yell at me, but for those who consume dairy, the oat milk/creamer can be swapped for half-and-half (preferably organic), and of course other—people -No-we – Vegetarians can also add a little butter to the olive oil. And Kristi Brown said this, not me: Her original, nonveg corn chowder recipe contained salmon, so … – Bethany Jean Clement

6 medium ears fresh, sweet Washington State corn
2 medium carrots – 1 whole and 1 small carrot
3 celery ribs – 2 whole and 1 chopped (plus any celery tops)
1 medium yellow onion, halved and of the other left alone
medium red onion, chopped (reserve the other for salad or something else)
4 fresh bay leaves or 2 dried
kosher salt
white pepper
3 tablespoons high-quality extra virgin olive oil (plus more for garnish)
2 tbsp flour
1 large potato, peeled and -inch diced (about 1¼ cups)
1 small-to-medium sweet potato (orange or white, up to you), peeled and -inch diced (about 1 cup)
1 cup unsweetened oat-milk creamer or oat milk
tsp coriander
tsp cumin
dash of red pepper
Chives, sliced, and/or green onions, thinly sliced ​​on the diagonal, plus more olive oil for garnish

1. Shake It Up! Then stand each ear of corn with its butt-end on a tray or at the bottom of a large shallow bowl, and use a sharp knife to carefully cut out the kernels, leaving the cobs (and, of course, the kernels) open. Save it. Warning: If your corn is nice and fresh, it will be messy. (Optional: some recipes call for “corn milk”, which involves running the back of a knife down cut cobs to extract all the juices. It’s my understanding that we can make stock next to those precious corn-liquids. , and I’m even going to say that life seems too short to spend time milking corn.)

2. Break your corn cobs in half and put them in a 3½- or 4-quart pot, along with 1 whole carrot broken in half, 2 ribbed celery pieces broken to fit in the pot (with only any celery tops), yellow onion, 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried, 1 teaspoon salt and a sprinkle of white pepper. Add water to almost cover, about 4 to 6 cups (pot will be crowded). Bring to a boil, give it a stir and then lower the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from heat, and let rest.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat for a minute or two, then add the sliced ​​yellow and red onions, shredded carrots, and chopped celery. Add salt and white pepper, stir and cook for about 6-8 minutes, stirring again about every 2 minutes. Sprinkle over flour and cook, stirring, another 1–2 minutes. remove from heat.

4. Carefully sift your stock through a colander into a large bowl.

5. In a large pot add potatoes, sweet potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, sprinkle white pepper, and 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dry vegetable to large pot, then add enough sifted stock to cover all. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, stir, and continue cooking until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes, perhaps stirring every 5 minutes.

6. Add oat milk/creamer, corn and spices, then mix and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add a little more stock or water if it seems too thick, although the corn will release a fair amount of liquid, so don’t panic. Increase the heat to bubbling again, reduce the heat and cook for another 15 minutes, while stirring occasionally.

7. Add more salt and white pepper to taste – You’ll probably want to add a teaspoon or more of salt at a time to balance the sweetness of the corn, sweet potatoes and onions. Do not be shy!

8. Boil for another 15 minutes to half an hour, while stirring occasionally. At this point, the chowder should be thick and ready to serve; Overcooking or reheating later will thicken matters even more, mixing the vegetables together and breaking up the corn, which is good too.

9. Garnish with chives or green onions with your high-quality olive oil and enjoy. It is well served chilled even in the summer heat.

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