On the last shopping trip to our favorite grocery store we found an amazing bargain - a dozen ears of corn for only 99 cents! Sure, that's a lot of corn for only two people, but the great buy inspired this week's Meatless Monday recipe, Vanilla-Scented Sweet Corn Chowder.
This delightfully simple chowder gets plenty of natural sweetness from the fresh corn, but adding the seeds from a vanilla bean enhances that sweetness and gives the dish an amazing scent. Using 2% milk makes it a lighter, healthier meal. Since it's Meatless Monday, we didn't use any meat, but we can imagine adding some crab, lobster, or even a little bit of bacon in future incarnations of this luscious soup. This dish is sure to become a summer staple as the native corn comes in.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small leek, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
4 cups 2% milk
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 vanilla bean
4 cups fresh sweet corn kernels (about 4 ears' worth)*
Heat the butter in a large saucepan. Add the leek, thyme leaves, salt and pepper and cook for five minutes, until leek starts to soften. Stir in the milk. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and, with the tip of the knife, scrape the seeds from the bean into the soup; discard the pod. Add the diced potatoes and simmer about 20 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender. Take one cup of the corn kernels and puree them in a food processor; add the puree to the soup to thicken it. Add the remaining three cups of corn and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.
*If fresh corn is unavailable, substitute thawed frozen corn.