May is almost over. And it’s rained every single day the entire month. No lie. While I pictured myself pointing my face towards the sun and breaking out my flip flops and summer dresses, I’m doing nothing of the sort and forced to wear jeans, sweatshirts and rain boots 24/7. It’s rather depressing when you’re expecting loads of warm weather and sunshine to come your way and you’re just continually let down. HURRY UP SUMMER!
I was looking forward to grilling burger and brats; feasting on cool pasta salads and icy-cold smoothies and cooling off with ice-coffees and tea. Instead, I’m heating up my hot coffee every five seconds as I’m in a constant need of a warm-up, eating hearty winter-friendly pastas and making soup like it’s my job.
This creamy corn chowder is one of my favorite soups to make when I’m yearning for warmer weather, but Mother Nature has let me down. I still get to utilize one of summer’s most prized product possessions – fresh sweet corn – while simultaneously warming myself from the inside out – which is a total win in my book.
Of course, we start with plenty of fresh corn and whole lotta of chopped onion, celery and garlic. I sweat all the veggies over a low temperature in just a touch of butter until the onions are softened, the corn is a vibrant yellow and the garlic is fragrant. I actually like to add in the garlic at the last minute since it has a tendency to burn, and really only takes a minute or two to cook.
In a soup it’s EXTREMELY important to season as you go. Each layer needs to be seasoned properly so you don’t even up with a bland base at the end, or worse, basically a salt lick for adding in too much at the end. Adding your seasoning in gradually allows for the flavors to build, intensifying each bite – really it’s the difference between a good soup, and a GREAT soup.
Once the veggies are softened, I toss in ¼ cup of flour to thicken the soup up, along with a box of low-sodium chicken stock, a little bit of milk (I used 2%, but whole milk will also work well), diced red potatoes and a few fresh thyme sprigs. (You could also use dried thyme, just use ¼ teaspoon or so since it’s more potent in a dried state.) I let the mixture come to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer until it’s thickened.
At this point you can go one of two ways, if you like a more brothy soup, you can leave everything as is, but I like to puree it just a touch so that it thickens up a little bit and some of the corn becomes almost cream-like in texture. You can put a couple ladle of the soup into a blender and puree it, then add it back to the soup, or if you have one of those hand immersion blender, just blend it a few times until you get the consistency you like.
At the last minute, I turn the heat down to low and in ¾ a pound or so of chicken tenders and let them poach in the broth. Once they finish cooking, they’re chopped up into bite-sized pieces, added back into the soup and it’s ready to be served. A quick note, if you’re preparing this ahead of time (which you can do up to two days ahead), don’t add the chicken in until the last minute. I find that chicken, especially chicken breast can seriously dry up if you leave it in the hot broth for too long, and then reheat it again. What I’d do is just store the entire pan into the fridge and once you’re ready to eat, pop it back on the stove, bring it to a boil and then reduce it to a low heat or simmer and add the chicken in.
This could easily feed 6-8 people, but if you’re only feeding a couple people, the recipe can easily be cut in half, or on the flip side, can easily be doubled for a large gathering. Either way, this soup is seriously easy to throw together and healthy to boot!