Tuesday, 25 September 2012

In Revival: The Caucasian Corn Chowder Circle

Lunch for less than a dollar!
In "It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Souperman," I extolled the virtues of soup by sharing my corn chowder recipe. Of everything I make, this is the thing I make the most. Each time I make it, I hone it further and further until it is as perfect as I can make it.

That said, here is the recipe I will probably stick with for a while.

Key point: Buy fresh, local produce when you can. Corn is in season in Southern California from May through December; you can see what's in season in your state using this handy interactive map on Epicurious. The vegetables I used to make this soup cost around $5, or 50¢ per serving. Keep it in the fridge for about a week, or in the freezer for about forever, and you've got yourself an incredibly low-cost lunch whenever you want.

The Best Corn Chowder I've Ever Made

Serves 10-12.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt 2 tbsp. unsalted butter in 2 tbsp. olive oil. (Or, for a vegan-friendly option, just use 4 tbsp. olive oil.) Add in 1 finely-chopped large yellow onion, 1 finely-chopped carrot, 3 minced jalapeños (without seeds for mild, with seeds for spicy), and ¼ finely-chopped red bell pepper. (You can use the whole red pepper; I just wanted to save some for something else.) Sauté with a pinch of salt for about 5 min. Add 3 minced cloves of garlic and cook another 2-3 min. Stir in 1 tsp smoked paprika and 1 tsp ground cumin and cook for another minute. Deglaze with ½ c. medium sherry, scraping the bottom of the pot to get up all the flavorful goodness. (You can also use white wine, vermouth, vodka, or vegetable broth instead.) Add in 2 finely-diced red potatoes, 4 c. vegetable broth, and 4 c. water. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 min. Add 4 c. fresh corn kernels (from 4 ears of corn) and simmer for another 6 min., stirring occasionally. Stir in a handful of crushed tortilla chips until the soup is thicker, about 2 min. Remove from heat. Puree 2 cups of the chowder in the blender and stir back in. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and stir in 2 tbsp. cilantro.

Serve with tortilla chips, definitely, but feel free to add shredded cheese, crushed red pepper, sour cream, and/or your favorite salsa.


"An actor's job is to audition," someone said to me recently. And they were right. So, get out there and make it happen!

The Caucasian Chalk Circle (or Der Kaukasische Kreidekreis) is an epic play by (you guessed it!) Bertolt Brecht, originally translated by Eric Bentley. Premiered at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, in 1948; it did not premiere in German until 1954.

1 comment:

  1. I did some more serious number crunching to come up with how much it actually cost me to put this soup together. Buying farm-fresh ingredients and using what I already had in my kitchen (butter, oil, sherry, broth, chips, and spices), this corn chowder cost...

    $8.47, or between 71¢ and 85¢ per serving.

    Cheap AND tasty! If you have to go out and buy everything on the list, that will run you in the neighborhood of $45, or $3.75 to $4.50 per serving. But, fret not! Those pantry items and that butter will give you many, many more delicious meals in the future, thereby offsetting the cost and making you, the cook-consumer, rather happy, indeed.

    It took me 20-30 min. to prep the veggies (corn is a bit of a hassle; however, shucking corn is a great activity with a partner, especially if she or he can be helping you run lines at the same time) and about 30 min. to cook.