Roasted Cream of Corn Chowder with Parsley Pistou

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corn chowder

Poor corn. It’s been pimped out to animal feed and fructose companies, making it top the most-wanted list of dietary no-nos. But real corn — and by “real” I mean those delightful yellow and white cobs that come in green husks and not the mass-produced grain in monoculture fields — is a summer treat.

Corn is at its best roasted on the grill where that direct intense heat makes the kernels sweeter. After eating our fill of grilled corn a few weeks ago, however, I wanted to try something a little different. Soup. Yes, I know. Soup is not a summer standard. But we live in the Bay Area, where hot days are followed by cool, foggy ones, so soup is an every-season dish as far as I’m concerned.

Corn chowder is a favorite of mine. In the past, I have always just cooked the corn on the stove to make soup, but this time I wondered how everything would turn out if I roasted it first. I had to give it a try. Now keep in mind that this is a simple recipe. Unlike other corn chowders, which are usually made in the winter, this soup doesn’t include root vegetables, like potatoes, or spices. Corn is now in season so I really wanted it to be the star and adding other ingredients meant it would have to share the stage. I therefore settled on just corn, bacon and onion along with stock and milk. The result was lovely: just-picked corn sweetness caramelized on the grill with a salty bacon accent. You could easily serve the soup just like this, but because I am growing parsley in my backyard, I decided to top everything off with an herb pistou to round out the flavors.

What, you may ask, is a pistou? It’s just a fancy name for herbs blended with olive oil and seasonings. I often make a parsley pistou for my lentil soup, so whipped one up for the chowder. The result was more than I had hoped for. Like lime with jalapeno, or coffee with chocolate, the pistou heightened the corn’s natural essence and elevated the flavor to a new level.

Roasted cream of corn chowder with parsley pistou has now become one of my favorite summer dishes, with or without a fog bank.

grilled corn

Roasted Cream of Corn Chowder with Parsley Pistou

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:
2 strips bacon
1/2 onion diced
3 large cobs of corn
1/2 cup half and half or whole milk
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
1. Heat grill to high.
2. Place husked corn on direct heat and turn down the grill. If using a charcoal grill, place on indirect heat.
3. Grill for about 5 minutes a side or until the kernels start to brown. You may even hear a popping sound.
4. When corn is thoroughly cooked, remove it from the grill. Set aside to cool.
5. Chop bacon into small pieces and cook in a medium pan. Add the diced onions when the bacon is 2/3 cooked through. Continue cooking until bacon is crispy and onions cooked through.
6. Trim kernels from the cobs. I place my knife at a slight angle, which makes it easier to remove the kernels.
7. Place bacon and onions in a blender along with the corn, chicken stock and milk. Puree until the mixture reaches the consistency you desire. I like it mostly smooth, but with some small chunks. You can also use a hand blender.
8. Place the soup into a medium-sized pot and heat through.
9. Ladle into bowls and top with parsley pistou.

Parsley Pistou

Makes: 1 cup

Ingredients:
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
1. Place parsley and olive oil in a blender and puree until the herb is fully integrated into the oil.
2. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Category: Bay Area Bites Food + Drink, recipes

About the Author ()

I am a writer, editor, mother of twins, and enthusiastic home cook. I was raised by an Italian-American mother who, in the 1970s, grew her own basil (because she couldn’t find any in the local grocery stores), zucchini (for those delicious flowers), and tomatoes (because the ones in the store tasted like “a potato”). My mom taught us to love all kinds of food and revere high-quality ingredients. I am now trying to follow in my mother’s footsteps and am on a mission to help my daughters become adventurous eaters who have a healthy respect for seasonal food raised locally. My daughters and I grow vegetables and go to the farmers’ market. We also love to shop at Piedmont Grocery and Trader Joe’s. When I’m not hanging out with my daughters or cooking, I like to contribute to cookbooks (including Williams-Sonoma’s Food Made Fast and Foods of the World series), work as an editor, and write about food for Bay Area Bites and Denise's Kitchen. My food inspirations are M.F.K Fisher, Julia Child, and Alice Waters — three fabulous women who encompass everything I love about food.
  • Marc Beck

    It was delicious … thank you

  • http://deniseskitchen.wordpress.com/ Denise Santoro Lincoln

    You’re welcome! Come back soon for some more :-)