Last Saturday, I took my son back to college in Montreal. We unpacked the car at his new apartment, had dinner later that evening and said our goodbyes. I had planned the following day for myself―it would be a chance to be in the city on my own, do some shopping, and splurge a little bit.
With no plans to see my son again before I returned home, I set out Sunday morning wandering through the old city. It was a quiet and peaceful time on the waterfront. Vendors and tourists were getting prepared for the day. I cherished the quiet and loved being a part of the city waking up. It was a pleasant time, especially in contrast to the afternoon spent shopping on St. Catherine’s street―the city’s premiere shopping area. Montrealers are ultra-stylish and the fashions are light years away from what we normally see here in New Hampshire. While I admire anyone who can put together a lovely look for Sunday afternoon, I found myself turned off a bit by the excess of tattoos, nose rings and hot pink hairdos. By evening, I felt lonely and wondered if I’d overstayed my time in the city. But as I made my way out of the hotel to find dinner, my phone rang. It was my son calling, checking in to see if I was all right. When I suggested we have dinner, he heartily agreed. My day shifted yet again. Alienation moved to warmth and love.
Transitions are hard. Saying goodbye is never easy whether the goodbye is to a family member or to a season. As the hot summer weather moves from long hot nights to cool, restful evenings, it’s hard to let go of the magic of summer. This Corn Chowder with Cilantro is the basis of a wonderful transitional meal. Delicate, delicious sweet corn provides the fresh flavor of summer while the warm soup reminds us that while the nights might be getting cooler, warmth and love will still pervade our households. Enjoyed with a glass of wine, a crusty loaf of bread and family, this soup makes the transitions much easier.
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen gathering flavors soon.
Corn Chowder with Cilantro
Yield: 6 to 8 Servings
- ¼ pound piece slab bacon
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped large dice
- 1 potato, peeled and chopped large dice
- 3 ears corn, peeled and silks removed, broken into 2 or 3 pieces
- 1 bunch cilantro, rinsed and trimmed
- 4 cups stock—beef, chicken or vegetable
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heavy cream, for serving
- Place a large soup pot on the stovetop. Heat to high. Add the slab bacon and brown on all sides. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Leave the rendered bacon fat in the pan. Add the butter and heat to melt.
- Add the onion and potato to the soup pot. Toss with the bacon fat and butter. Brown lightly.
- Add the corn and stock. Add the browned slab bacon. Bring the stock to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer until the onion, potato and corn are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Remove the soup pot from the stovetop and allow to cool slightly. Using heatproof tongs, carefully remove the slab bacon and the corn from the pot. Allow both to cool, then cut the bacon into small dice. Remove the corn kernels from the cobs and discard the cobs.
- Transfer the corn kernels to the soup pot and add the cilantro, reserving a bit for garnish. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup to your desired consistency. Add the chopped bacon. Place the soup back on the stovetop and heat through. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve garnished with heavy cream and cilantro leaves.
- For a vegetarian soup, leave out the bacon and substitute olive oil for the bacon fat. Use vegetable stock.
- For a spicy soup, add a bit of harissa or red pepper flakes to the vegetables when sautéing.
- For a full meal, serve with a crusty loaf of bread, a wedge of cheese, wine and a Crispy Radish Salad.