Creamy vegetable chowder.

I’ve been cooking summer’s best vegetables all kinds of different ways all season long (on pizza, in salads, in a skillet). The one thing I haven’t made—because it’s been so ridiculously hot—is vegetable soup. I love a good veggie soup as much as anyone, but it’s been hard to muster enthusiasm.

But the farro risotto recipe I tried recently (and loved) got me thinking about soup, because the cooking liquid for the farro is basically a thin puree of corn. Wouldn’t that make a great soup base? I thought. Yes, it does.

This soup is flavorful and creamy without the addition of cream (sorry, Mom!). It’s loaded with a colorful confetti of summer vegetables: sweet red pepper, green beans, new potatoes, corn. It’s super inexpensive, practically non-fat, low-cal and easy to make ahead. In fact, this corn and vegetable chowder tastes even better after it’s rested in the fridge awhile. Chopping the veggies and preparing the corn broth takes a little effort (the latter can be done ahead or while you’re chopping), but I put this soup together from start to finish in about 45 minutes.

Top the soup with crumbled cooked bacon, sour cream or Greek yogurt, diced tomato or crunchy bread croutons. Since it contains no dairy, it should freeze well for up to 6 months. Sans bacon, this is the perfect Meatless Monday supper. And by all means, have a couple of fresh baked biscuits on the side.

creamy vegetable chowder

(serves 4)

2 1/2 cups corn kernels cut from 2 to 3 cobs (divided)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp. olive oil
5 cups vegetable broth (divided)
1 cup diced (1/4-inch cubes) new potato (about 2 medium)
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup cut fresh green beans (in 1/2-inch lengths)
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp. dried
salt and fresh ground pepper

In a soup pot, combine 1 1/2 cups corn kernels, onion, olive oil and 1/4 tsp. salt; stir to combine, and cook over medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the onion is translucent and the corn is crisp-tender. Add 2 cups of vegetable broth, reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until the liquid is reduced roughly by half. Remove the pan from the heat and let the corn broth cool. Transfer to a blender, and puree 5 minutes until very smooth. Pour the mixture into a sieve set over a bowl and strain, using a spatula to mash the solids through the strainer. You should end up with just a couple of tablespoons of solids left (these are the tough skins from the corn kernels). Set the corn puree aside.

In the same pot, combine 3 cups of vegetable broth and the diced potato. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the red pepper, green beans and thyme leaves. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt; simmer 5 minutes more. Add the remaining 1 cup of corn kernels and simmer 5 minutes more. Add corn puree and simmer another 5 to 7 minutes, until the soup is heated through (but not boiling) and the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add salt if needed and a generous pinch of fresh-ground pepper to taste.

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