Creamy Corn, Potato and Sausage Chowder with Corn Relish

ImageMaybe it's because I grew up in New England, home of New England Clam Chowdah. Or maybe it's because it was my mom's favorite soup. All I know is that every winter, as sure as the leaves fall from the trees, I crave a bowl of steaming hot corn chowder.

When I called my mom to tell her I wanted to make corn chowder and would like her recipe, she said, "Ooh, corn chowder! That's my favorite soup." I smiled.

"I'm sorry, honey, I don't have a recipe. But, it's chowder. Everyone knows how to make chowder." Or so every New England mother who makes chowder firmly believes.

So I conjured up images and smells of mom's corn chowder and started chopping and sauteing and pureeing. I added sausage for depth of flavor and cheddar cheese for richness. Then I adorned each serving with a simple corn relish that added just the right amount of texture to keep things interesting. The chowder turned out just like I wanted it to: it was wonderfully thick and creamy and had a deep corn flavor.

After I was finished, I called my mom and told her all about it. Her response: "Ooh, that sounds wonderful, honey! Can I have the recipe?"

So if you froze summer sweet corn, now is the time to whip it out. Of course, either frozen or canned corn from the supermarket works just as well.

Creamy Corn, Potato and Sausage Chowder with Corn Relish
Makes 4 servings.

Corn Relish:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup fresh corn kernels (or canned)
2 green onions, sliced
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley
salt, to taste

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
2 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups fresh corn kernels from 2 ears (or canned)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
6-7 cranks of freshly ground black pepper
2 cups milk (whole or low-fat)
1/4 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 pound of sausage, removed from the casing

To make the relish, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels and green onions, cooking until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat, and add fresh parsley and salt, to taste. Set aside.

In a deep pot over medium-high heat, melt butter. Saute onions for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add potatoes and broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; add corn kernels, cayenne, salt, and black pepper, and stir well. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the milk, cheddar cheese, and parsley. Turn off heat and allow chowder to cool for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add loose sausage, and cook until browned and crispy, about 7 minutes. Set aside.

Puree soup in two batches until smooth, and return to the pot over medium-low heat. Stir in cooked sausage and warm until thoroughly heated. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Garnish eat serving with a spoonful of corn relish and some extra finely chopped parsley.

Note: This soup tastes even better the next day. So it's a good meal to make over the weekend for a quick and easy mid-week dinner.



Susan Russo is a free lance food writer in San Diego, California. She publishes stories, recipes, and photos on her cooking blog, <Food Blogga and is a regular contributor to NPR’s <Kitchen Window. She is also the author of two upcoming books that will be published in the fall of 2010.