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Extract cobs' sweetness for tomato-corn chowder

A purist flavor profile, albeit with a shortcut, characterizes the corn chowder featured in this blog’s previous post.

Using a canned convenience item does more than streamline preparation on a busy weeknight. It imparts the necessary sweetness when there isn’t time to extract as much flavor as possible from the corn itself.

More classic in its method but updated with some globally inspired seasonings is this recipe from chef and cookbook author Carla Hall, courtesy of Tribune News Service. It calls for cutting the kernels from the corn cobs, then simmering the cobs in the broth for about 30 minutes with potatoes and tomatoes before finishing with just-cooked corn kernels.

Serve this tomato-corn chowder with good bread and salad for a light meal. Or after blending, enrich the soup with leftover roast or barbecue chicken, even pulled pork or crisped bacon.

Tomato-Corn Chowder

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced

Kosher salt, to taste

4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried epazote or oregano

1 teaspoon ground Mexican chile, such as ancho

1 small yuca or Idaho potato, peeled and finely diced

4 cups unsalted vegetable broth

4 cups diced tomatoes

5 ears corn, husks and silks removed, kernels cut off and reserved, cobs reserved

Mexican crema or sour cream, for serving (optional if you want to keep it vegan)

Lime wedges, for serving

Avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced, for serving

Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, for serving

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the cumin, epazote or oregano and chile and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the yuca or potato, broth, tomatoes with their juices, and corn cobs. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until yuca is tender, for about 30 minutes. Add the corn kernels and cook just until heated through and still crisp-tender, for about 3 minutes. Discard corn cobs.

Using an immersion blender or stand blender (working in batches if necessary), puree about half of soup until thickened. It should be creamy but still have bits of vegetables throughout. Stir puree into remaining soup.

Serve with the crema, lime, avocado and cilantro.

Makes 6 servings.

— Recipe from “Carla’s Comfort Foods” by Carla Hall (Atria Books; April 2014)

Tribune News Service photo