Grilled Poblano + Corn Chowder
I know soup isn’t the first thing you think of on a balmy August day, but I have a soft spot for a great creamy corn chowder (previous evidence here: Coconut Corn Soup and here: Chicken Corn Chowder – that one’s made with canned corn, like my mom did). The seafood version is another obsession. Both are inseparable from East coast summers in my heart.
I was at home in New Brunswick last week visiting my friends and family. It was a last-minute decision to travel, but I was feeling really homesick and claustrophobic in the hot city. I feel like I need this trip home every year to recharge my batteries.
If you have never travelled to the Canadian atlantic coast, you’re missing out. It is so beautiful and rustic, with dramatic coastlines studded with fishing towns and endless beaches. Charming like New England, but with distinct Canadian flavour and personality. No matter how much I love Vancouver, New Brunswick is home to me – I think there’s Atlantic seawater in my veins.
My mom’s home sits on a sprawling lawn, with an enormous ash tree, lots of apple trees, a fish pond, beautiful flower gardens, grape vines, a porch swing, twinkly lights, giant planters overflowing with beans and peas and tomatoes, and too many decks and outdoor seating areas to count (with a fire pit on each). It’s basically paradise. Such a breath of fresh air for me, coming from congested apartment living.
I actually made this recipe before I left, but haven’t had a chance to post it yet. I decided to take it easy for the week I was away instead. Baby #2 is arriving in just six weeks (gulp!) and I’m acutely aware that my life is going to get a bit crazy for a while.
The soup starts with fresh corn and a hot grill. Mild poblanos chilis are grilled too – they provide a subtle bit of heat and a lovely pop of green.
I pureed a portion of the soup and returned it to the pot to produce a creamy texture – but feel free to substitute actual cream (about half a cup, I’d suggest) for some of the milk if you’d like. Also, crispy bacon has never made a chowder taste worse…
I had reserved some beautiful bits of charred corn to finish the soup for photos, but my babysitter accidentally threw them away. You’ll just have to trust me that below the surface, every spoonful is full of sweet, fire-kissed corn.
Grilled Poblano + Corn Chowder
- 4 ears corn husks and silks removed
- 2 poblano chili peppers
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery finely chopped
- 2 tbsp flour
- 4 cups milk
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups diced potatoes preferably new potatoes
- 2 tbsp minced parsley
- finely chopped green onion or chives for serving
Preheat grill on medium-high heat. Grill corn and chiles until chiles are charred (about 5 minutes) and corn is tender (about 10 minutes), flipping occasionally. Place chiles in a bowl, and place a plate on top (the steam will help their skins come off). When cool enough to handle, peel and discard the chile skins, and cut the corn off of the cobs. Chop the chiles.
Meanwhile, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and cook until tender but not browned. Add garlic and cook another minute. Stir in flour and cook a minute more, then gradually whisk in milk. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add potato, corn and chiles; cook, stirring occasionally, until potato is tender.
Transfer 2 cups of the soup to a blender and carefully blend until smooth. Return pureed soup to the pot and stir in parsley. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve topped with green onion or chives.