A simple classic dish with just a little taste of the sea to liven it up
Corn season cannot go by without some more chowder, and it is going fast. As corn season progresses, this native treasure gets sweeter, and the price gets lower, so this is the time of year we pull out those recipes for succotash, corn pudding, corn relishes and breads, and, of course the chowder. September corn is so sweet!
Slightly beyond basic
Usually I make my chowder quickly with just onion, corn, potatoes, and a milk of some sort. My mother also used bacon in hers, but sometimes it can overpower the flavor of the corn. Since corn and crab are so nice together, I thought I would marry them along with some beautiful local cauliflower I found at the farmers market. The cauliflower was a nice swap, a little lighter.
Find a local source if possible
The crab here is from the Maine Coast and I find it at my fish market fresh, and sometimes frozen. It is sweet and delightful in so many recipes, but use whatever crab you have locally, or what you can find frozen; it will taste the best in your chowder, and no preservatives. Always look for domestic with just one ingredient – crab.
Corn and soy, always organic!
What we’ve done to corn and soy! Luckily organic corn, is still quite reasonably priced, especially this time of year. If the corn, and also any soy products, are not organic, ask your farmer if it has been genetically modified so that herbicides can be used on the fields? I, for one, don’t want any Round Up weed killer in my chowder, whether or not the government says it is ‘safe’. But once you find your beautiful corn, you can get cooking, and this time of year, stock your freezer as well.
Put the whole ear, cobs and all, to work
By using the whole cobs, the broth will thicken a bit on its own from the starch. A good chowder is not thick and gloppy with a heavy flour roux that pretends it is cream and often goes overboard. Just the starch from the corn, and potatoes (if that is what you are using) will work well. You can also cut the kernels of the cob first and simmer them with the onions and cauliflower, always tucking those cobs in as well. However, the kernels are easier to cut off after cooked, so that’s what I’ve done here.
I used extra creamy oat milk here and it was delicious. You can also use light coconut, soy, dairy milk, or even half-and-half if you can consume dairy.
Half hour from start to finish, and leftovers are even better the next day. It’s all good, and it all tastes beautifully of the waning summer season. Hurry now!
Creamy Corn, Crab & Cauliflower Chowder
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups extra creamy oat milk, or dairy milk, or half-and-half, divided
2 cups water
6 ears organic corn, husks removed*
2 cups cauliflower florets, small dice
8 oz. fresh or frozen crabmeat
Butter or vegan butter
In a stockpot, heat oil and add the onion. Cook just until the onion is softened and add 1 cup of the oat milk, the water, and the corn, cut some in half to fit in the pan. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, then add the cauliflower.
Continue simmering until the cauliflower is done.
Remove the corn from the pot and, when cool enough, cut the kernels from the cobs, and return them to the pot. If you like, reserve one ear to cut into rings for a garnish. The cobs have now done their full duty and can be dispatched to the compost.
Add the last cup of milk, the crabmeat, and a knob of butter, and warm gently. Taste and correct seasoning. You might need a bit more milk if your corn ears were rather large and plentiful.
Note: I’ve used all organic vegetables here, I am lucky to live in an area where organic farms are easy to find. If you do not, the most important ingredient to keep organic is the corn.
While they last!
Buy a dozen, or two, roast, grill, or boil them, strip from the cobs and tuck in the freezer for the winter. Toss in a bag of the cobs as well for mid-winter chowder. Now, do you feel like a squirrel stocking up?