Maybe you don’t get excited by soup. Maybe the concept of having ready-to-go, flat packed, ziplock bags of soups in the freezer ready to warm and soothe you doesn’t help you sleep soundly at night. Or maybe it does. Because soup is bowl-food at its best. If you are placated by the notion and need a summery chowder that manages to be cosseting and rich, yet deceptively dairy-free- stat- skip straight to the recipe at the bottom. This corn number is what you’re looking for.
I’ll tell you who does not get excited by soup. The Hungry One. The Hungry One does not see the point of soup at all. To him it’s a frustrating precursor to the main event of a meal, or else a paltry excuse for one. I hazard that’s because he’s never had a 25 week-gestation-bump attached to the front of him. Here’s why women-with-bumps like soup. We like soup because they’re easy to digest, which means less chance of sudsy, evil rising tides of heartburn haunting us after a meal like a house guest who doesn’t know when it’s polite to leave. We like soup because they’re like edible slankets – and really, if we had our way, that’s what we’d wear everyday. And we like soup because one good thing about being knocked up is having your very own stable-table attached to your middle (and there is a definite novelty about having a little ‘knock knock’ from someone inside when they clock that someone has turned the heater on in their little house).
This corn chowder first came about because this week our stowaway has stretched to the length of a pone. But it was also perfect, because summer is just starting to peek it’s head around the corner in Sydney. The air smells different. My yellow roses are blooming in the garden (complete benign neglect and yet, they still bloom. I love them). And a corn chowder seemed perfect. Yet, here’s the rub with chowders. Many of them rely on a heavy cream or milk base- neither of which are things which thrive in the freezer. Which led me to think- how can we get that creamy consistency, without the dairy?
The answer comes in two prongs. The first is to make a velvety stock out of the corn pones themselves. There is great natural starch and flavour in the corn pones which should not be ignored. The simple process of boiling them in water for 10 minutes releases both, meaning more flavour, more body and less waste. And the second is to lean on our old favourite- cauliflower cream. Cauliflower cream is such a handy helper in the kitchen. I’ve used it as a dairy free alternative to stroganoff , and in cauliflower mac and cheese. I love it as a puree to underpin slow roasted beef cheeks and steak. And here it adds a silky savouriness, that freezes well with the extra benefit of more vegetables in your bowl (though, my kingdom for my child to actually eat any of it. Will took one spoonful and then shook his head and said ‘no thanks Mummy- not for me!’ before demolishing $17 worth of salmon).
The other sneaky addition to this soup which helps add a lovely umami roundness is a generous tablespoon of white miso paste. It may seem curious, but it works. Miso is great friends with corn (try a teaspoon of miso and some chilli in some sauteed corn kernels with kale and quinoa for a swift Tuesday supper). It’s also a great pal to cauliflower (try smearing some over half a head of cauliflower and then baking in a high oven until the miso has caramellised and the cauliflower is soft enough to carve into steaks). Here it just adds a whisper of salt and depth which takes this chowder to another level.
I like to serve this out of bowls, garnished with fresh corn, pumpkin seeds and some olive oil. A few fresh herbs like coriander, mint or parsley would also be lovely, as would some molten quesadillas on the side for dipping if you needed a little more substance.
Or else, if you’re like my beloved husband, you could be so uninspired by the concept of chowder for dinner, then you could gently encourage your partner to find another use for it and use it as a a sauce for a blonde version of enchiladas. Just add half a cup of the chowder to the bottom of a baking dish, then layer fajitas that are stuffed with spiced pulled pork, kale and mozzarella. Top that with more of the corn chowder and mozzarella. Then serve with pickled red onions, coriander and hot sauce.
I told you this is a useful chowder.
Here are a few other things that are going on.
Watching: Steve Jobs. It had so much promise. A script by Aaron Sorkin. Kate Winslet. Michael Fassbender. Danny Boyle at the helm. It may have been the mood I was in (pregnant, tired and totally spent), but mainly I just wanted them all to stop shouting so much. Not my favourite Sorkin.
Also watching: House of Lies. A torrid (rude) and completely addictive glimpse into the financially plum and morally bankrupt realm of some management consulting. Half an hour episodes are perfect for binge watching, where the compulsion to press go on ‘Another one?’ can still put you in bed at a reasonable time. Kristen Bell is miraculous.
Listening: One of my best and oldest friends (and de facto cultural concierge) put me onto the podcast ‘Call your Girlfriend’ last week. The Huma Abedein episode is a fantastic listen. I particularly love how she waxes on about how she and Hilary Clinton bond over food – and if they were to have a podcast, it would be about food. Swoon.
Ogling: The range from KnickerLuxe. If you ever need something nice to send to a girlfriend, KnickerLuxe is what you want. It’s beautiful, comfortable, wearable underwear, that comes exquisitely packaged (with its own signature scented box!). It’s the kind of thing you can’t always justify buying for yourself, but you totally should.
Eating: Chocolate ice cream. I’ve never been a chocolate ice cream kind of girl. Hazelnut; yes. Boysenberry; absolutely. But I never really saw the point of chocolate ice cream. Until this pregnancy. Now I cannot get enough – the darker the chocolate the better- and it’s a bit of a problem. Someone may need to stage an intervention soon.
Despairing: Donald Trump. I just….can’t. Please tell me that the world is going to be ok.
(Dairy Free) Sweet Corn Chowder
2 1/2 ears of corn (approx 370 g of corn kernels)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
1 tbsp white/shiro miso (optional)
1/2 head/ 500 g cauliflower
3 cups/750 ml water
Salt to taste
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds/ pepitas for garnish
Additional extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
Here’s how we roll
1) Shear the corn from the cobs using a knife. I find it easiest to do this in a wide baking dish, so that way all the corn gathers into the dish. Alternatively, place the corn in the centre of a bundt cake tin and cut downwards.
Previously in Poppyseed to Pumpkin
Each week mad websites and baby books will tell you how big your baby now is in comparison to a seed, fruit or vegetable. It starts as a poppy seed and goes from there. To make this process a little more palatable, join me as I bake my way through. Here’s the journey so far. (Nb, you can also see the poppy seed to pumpkin process in the app, or ebook from my first pregnancy with Will, or read about it on the blog here.)