This spiced New England style corn chowder is a light and delicious vegetarian soup whose delicate smokey taste owes nothing to bacon. It’s the spicy chipotle pepper that’s used whole in the broth that... gives this easy soup its flavor. This is a good thing. Smoked meat can be carcinogenic, so it’s a great idea to find natural substitutes to get that smoky flavor into your cooking without it. You will note we’ve used whole milk. Many chowders use richer evaporated milk or cream, so we thought this was a good compromise!
Make the corn broth. Place the reserved corn cobs into a large saucepan and add water. Add more if needed to cover the cobs. Add the dried chipotle pepper, ½ teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil over a high flame. Cover, turn the flame down to medium low, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile divide the corn kernels. Put half the corn into a blender with the milk. Blend at high speed until liquidized and creamy. Set aside in the fridge until needed.
Heat the butter in a 5-quart Dutch oven over a medium high flame, when melted, add the onion, celery and peppers. Sprinkle with salt. Add the bay leaf and cook stirring for 1 minute. Partially cover, turn the flame down to medium and cook stirring occasionally to keep them from sticking, or until the onion is translucent and the vegetables have started to soften, about 5-8 minutes. They should have no color. Add the potatoes. Stir to mix. Cover and cook in the same way for another 5 minutes.
Remove the chipotle pepper and cobs from the corn broth. Discard. Add the corn broth to the vegetables. Cook until the potatoes are soft and can be smashed against the side of the pan, about 15 minutes. Add the remaining corn kernels. Cook stirring for another 5 minutes smashing some of the potatoes against the sides of the pan to thicken the soup slightly.
Stir in the reserved milk and corn mixture and gently heat the soup through over a medium low flame until it just barely simmers. A hard boil can cause the milk to separate and make scum. Taste for salt. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Let the soup sit 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot or chilled.
You don’t have to wait until summer to make this. You can use 4 cups of frozen corn and some good clear vegetable stock like our Basic Vegetable Stock and add in the chipotle with the bay leaf.
If you can’t find poblano peppers, use ripe Italian frying peppers or cubanelle peppers.
Hold off on the black pepper if you are on a neutropenic diet.