Corn Chowder is one of those easy soups that can either remind you of cheap creamed corn or can easily be taken to gourmet heights with a few high quality ingredients.
As a student I would go the cheap route: frozen corn, skim milk, and some vegetables for a filling hearty vegetarian soup. After I began cooking professionally, and like most professionals, fell in love with high end ingredients, I learned to make a chowder that used cream, homemade stock and fresh corn. While both versions are good, the more gourmet style really tastes so much better that I can't go back.
I know that much of the colder northern hemisphere is way beyond fresh corn season and posting this recipe from southern California is somewhat unfair. But if you're sliding into the winter months and you happened to freeze some sweet corn from the summer, this would be the perfect time to bring back the taste of summer in a warming cup of soup!
3 ears corn, shucked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 bulb fennel, chopped
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 cup heavy cream
In large stock pot bring enough water to boil to contain corn. Boil for 10 minutes until cooked. Drain all but 3 cups of boiling water and set aside. When corn is cool enough to handle, cut corn off cob. Place cobs back in cooking water and bring to boil and cook at least another 30 minutes. In smaller sauce pan, saute onion in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add celery and fennel and dried thyme if using and cook another 5 minutes. Pour corn cob stock into pot and add corn and fresh thyme if using. Bring to boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes or until celery and fennel are very soft. Remove thyme sprigs and turn off heat. Add salt and pepper to taste and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Stir in cream and serve.