Corn Chowder with Chile, Lime and Cotija
Photo Credit: Smitten Kitchen
8 medium/large ears corn, husks and silks removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, preferably Spanish, chopped fine
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped
1 tablespoon mild chili powder or 1 teaspoon of a hotter one
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock or broth
2 15-ounce cans small red or black beans, drained and rinsed (or one of each)
1 cup whole milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper or cayenne to taste
1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
1/2 cup finely crumbled Cotija, feta or ricotta salata cheese, plus more for serving
1 lime, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Chili powder or a chili-lime seasoning such as Tajín
Baked tortilla chips (optional)
Diced avocado (optional)
For the soup:
With a sharp knife, cut kernels from 8 ears corn (you should have about 6 cups); transfer half to a bowl. Chop the other half into pulpy bits on a cutting board or blend them in a food processor until half-pureed. Add to bowl. Firmly scrape any pulp remaining on cobs with back of knife into bowl with corn. Set corn aside.
In a large (5 quarts is ideal) heavy pot, heat olive oil and butter over medium. Add onion and cook until tender and beginning to brown at the edges, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeño and chili powder and cook together for 2 minutes more. Add flour and stir into onion-garlic mixture until it disappears. Stirring constantly, gradually add stock. Add beans, corn, and 1 cup milk and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 13 minutes, until corn is tender.
Add salt (about 1 tablespoon Diamond kosher salt) and freshly ground black pepper or cayenne to taste. Add cream to taste (1/2 cup sufficient, but it will be less creamy than traditional) and cook for 3 minutes more.
Combine mayonnaise, sour cream or crema, cheese, and juice of half a lime in a bowl; stir to combine. Cut second half of lime into wedges.
Ladle soup into bowls and dollop in center with 1 tablespoon (or more to taste) of mayo-cheese mixture. Squeeze lime juice over to taste, sprinkle with chili powder and chopped cilantro and serve, baked tortilla chips on the side if you wish.
This makes a lot of soup, so next time I'll cut it in half.
My corn cobs were very dry, so I didn't get a lot of corn "milk." Once I removed the kernels, I simmered the cobs in a pot with the chicken stock while finishing the rest of the preparations.
I used a Vidalia onion.
We don't care for spicy food, so I left out the jalapeno and only used 1 teaspoon of chili powder. That's why my photo shows a much whiter-looking soup.
I didn't have small red beans, so I substituted with navy beans.
For the finish, I used feta which I find to be less salty than the Cotija.
I didn't have any cilantro, but I did add diced avocado.
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