Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Vegan Corn Chowder

I enjoyed this corn chowder recipe with fresh corn on the cob from the restaurant St. Francis on Camelback in Central Phoenix. It was one of the best vegetarian gluten-free soups I had ever had, so I casually asked the server how it was prepared. Amazingly enough he brought me the recipe: a pound of butter, several leeks, fresh corn, and heavy cream blended into heavenly submission. 

Fast forward two years and I'm tending toward more vegan cooking. Last week I tried a vegan corn chowder recipe with fresh corn on the cob from the book Vegan with a Vengeance--a brilliant read--but I felt that it masked the flavor of the fresh corn. And summertime is all about fresh corn. So I hunted down the recipe from St. Francis and decided to veganize it. 

So smooth and delicious! Although we made it for dinner, I think it would be even better as an easy vegan lunch. You could definitely make it a day ahead and reheat it too. The most important thing is to find the freshest corn you can get your hands on. The sugars in sweet corn convert to starch as the vegetable ages, so plan to make the soup the same day you pick it/buy it. 

serves four

1 medium leek, washed thoroughly, diced 
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

4 ears fresh, sweet corn on the cob, kernels removed
4 sprigs fresh thyme
24 ounces good-quality vegetable broth

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 
1 pint So Delicious Coconut Creamer (or another vegan creamer)

2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

In a medium sauce pan, sweat the leek and onion with olive oil and sea salt over low heat. The salt helps the vegetables release their liquids. Keep the heat low so they do not develop any color. Cook for about 15 minutes, until soft and pulpy. 

Add the thyme, vegetable broth, corn cobs, and all but 1/2 cup of the corn kernels. Cook for another 15-20 minutes. 

Stir in the white wine vinegar then add the non dairy creamer. Remove the corn cobs and thyme. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. (This can be done cautiously with a regular blender too, making sure to allow the steam to escape so that the lid does not burst from the top.) 

Pour into wide soup bowls and garnish with scallions, the reserved corn kernels, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 

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