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Popcorn Soup … Aah, memories of my childhood! This corn chowder is rich and delicious and features grill roasted fresh corn. Yum!
1. Put the ears of sweet corn (husks intact) in a large bowl and cover with cold water to soak while you heat a barbecue grill to medium-high.
2. Put the corn (husks intact) on the grill and cook for 40 minutes, rotating the ears ¼ turn every 10 minutes to brown evenly. Then remove it from the grill to a platter. Allow the corn to cool then remove the husks and cut the kernels from the cobs. Reserve the kernels and the cobs.
3. In a 5-quart sauce pan, place the reserved corn cobs, 1 quart of cold water, chicken stock, onion, celery, Anaheim pepper, 3 cloves of roughly chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat, immediately reduce the heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes.
4. In a small bowl, mix the sour cream with the adobo sauce, lime juice and remaining ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Cover the mixture and let it rest while the stock simmers. After the stock has simmered for 45 minutes, strain it into a large pot through a colander and dispose of all the solids. Set the stock aside. Taste the sour cream mixture and add more adobo if desired.
5. Heat the same 5 quart sauce pan over medium heat and cook the diced bacon until done, but not completely crisp. Remove bacon to drain on a paper towel and reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings in the sauce pan. Dispose of the rest of the drippings.
6. Melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter into the remaining 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings and add the diced onions and all of the peppers. Cook while stirring until the onion begins to wilt then add the garlic and the cooked bacon. Cook and continue stirring for another 2 minutes.
7. Add the reserved stock and the potatoes to the saucepan and increase the heat to medium-high to bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender (should take between 10 and 15 minutes, depending on the size of the potato cubes) then stir in the reserved corn kernels (that you removed from the ears of corn in step 2). Just when the pan begins to simmer again reduce the heat to medium and add the heavy cream and stir to incorporate.
8. When the mixture begins to simmer again, reduce the heat to low and stir in the white cheddar cheese in 3 batches. Stir until each batch is completely melted and absorbed into the chowder before adding the next. Once all of the cheese is incorporated, adjust the seasonings if desired. Cover the pot of chowder and remove from the heat.
9. Pop the popping corn using your preferred method; do not add butter to the popped corn.
Serve the chowder with the adobo sour cream on the side and the “popcorn” as croutons.
Tips and trending:
If “husk on” sweet corn isn’t available you can substitute fresh pre-husked corn from the grocery store or even frozen corn on the cob. (A recipe like this is a great reason to freeze fresh when we can!) If your corn doesn’t come naturally wrapped don’t fret. Just wrap each ear in aluminum foil and roast away as directed above.
When I roast corn on the grill as a dish unto itself, I soak the ears, with the husks intact for an hour. For this recipe however, the quick soak in water while the grill is heating will help to steam the corn while not water logging the cobs and allow them to flavor the stock.
As with any hot peppers, chipotle peppers will vary in their “hotness” from batch to batch. For this reason, my recipe incorporates only 1 pepper to start. If you’d like a little more pop in the chowder, you can add another minced chipotle at the very end. Since they are already prepared by the process used to turn them from jalapenos into chipotle with adobo, you can add them at this time. Do note, however, that the additional adobo sauce will greatly increase the Southwestern note already present in the chowder. You may wish to rinse off this “late arrival” pepper.
You can flavor your “croutons” by tossing the just prepared hot popcorn with a little garlic powder, onion powder, or chili powder. If you want the popcorn salty use the superfine variety sold near the popcorn at your grocer. Kosher or even regular table salt will not cling to the unbuttered popcorn kernels.
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