I love this part of summer where it is still hot but you can feel that fall is just around the corner… the sun sets a little earlier, the evenings are a little crisp, and that cozy snug vibe starts to roll in. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE summer but Labor Day weekend is about the time when I start to feel the change of season is welcome and my cooking resembles my feelings.
That is how this summer vegetable corn chowder came about – my produce drawer was FULL of delicious in-season vegetables, but I simply couldn’t bring myself to throw them on the grill for the umpteenth time this season. The evening was cool so the thought of being over a hot stove didn’t bother me and I decided a chowder sounded nice. The hot creamy soup and summer-y veggies we a fantastic combination for a dinner where summer meets fall and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
When I want to make a super creamy and hearty soup like this I always start with a roux. If you have yet to perfect your roux, it is time to! Once you do, you have unlocked the secret to every cream-based sauce and soup ever. The basic concept of a roux is a fat (simply used butter) and flour. The more flour used the thicker your consistency will be – for a thinner sauce/soup I will do equal parts butter and flour. For this soup I desired a nice thick chowder and did a 1:2 ratio of butter to flour. A good roux is accomplished by equal parts whisking and patience… you don’t want your flour mixture to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn so you must continue to whisk almost the whole time, but you also don’t want to add your milk too fast and water things down, so slowly adding a little at a time while whisking is necessary.
Now, on to the recipe! In general this is an easy one and most the effort is chopping all the vegetables… the whole thing took me about 20 minutes so it was nice and quick. As you read the ingredients you will also notice the soup is vegetarian! I have been trying to incorporate vegetarian cooking into my life more for sustainability reasons. With appropriate technique and flavor, I think the meat does not need to be missed! However if you feel you simply can’t go without or prefer the added flavor, I think bacon or diced ham would accompany these flavors well.
-one large pot (for making roux/soup)
-one medium/large saute pan
-10 cups milk
-1/2 cup unsalted butter
-1 cup flour
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-3-4 ears of corn
-1 summer squash
-1/2 yellow onion
-3 medium/large mushrooms
-2 sweet mini red peppers, or 1/2 red bell pepper
-3/4 teaspoons garlic powder
-1/4 teaspoons ground pepper
-1 teaspoon salt or Johnny’s Seasoning
-1 cup grated cheese (use cheddar or colby jack)
Dice all your veggies into desired size pieces. Mine were around a centimeter cubed. Cut all your corn off the cobs – mine were cobs pre-cut by Costco so I used 4 but if you have full cobs might only need 3.
In your saute pan, warm your two tablespoons of olive oil. Toss in onions, and cook about 2 minutes until they start to sweat. Add the remainder of your diced veggies and corn. Cook them covered, stirring occasionally. I cook them covered so the steam helps them cook and they turn out soft and the veggies on top cook evenly with the ones on the heat at the bottom of the pan. You want them to be al dente – you don’t want them to be hard and under-cooked, but at the same time you don’t want them mushy where they would fall apart in your soup. Once at your desired consistency, remove from heat and set aside.
Cube your butter and toss into your soup pot. Stir and melt it over medium/low heat. This is where the technique we discussed above comes in. Bust out that whisk and get ready! I would also have your milk measured out and ready to go to make things easy. Start by pouring your flour into the pot with the melted butter, and whisk consistently. The mixture will start to turn into something that almost looks like a dough, but that is okay! Once the butter and flour are fully incorporated, start slowly pouring your milk in a stream, while whisking the whole time. You don’t want there to be a lot of unincorporated milk in the pot… the idea is you slowly add liquid and your thick butter and flour paste will slowly start to turn into your thick, creamy soup! Slowly keep adding the milk, whisking the whole time until it all has been incorporated. You want it just a tiny bit runnier than your desired consistency, because it will thicken slightly as you add cheese. If it is too thick for you, simply add more milk.
Toss in your seasonings, cheese and stir. Now, scoop in your veggies with a spoon (I don’t pour from the pan because I don’t want extra water or burnt bits to get in). Serve immediately while hot! Additional toppings to consider would be croutons, diced chives, grated Parmesan cheese, or some additional cooked corn. Makes about 6 bowl-size servings. If you are cooking for just one or two people, the recipe can easily be halved.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe and are having a wonderful last few weeks of summer!
X.O. – Abbey Co.
For dishes like this with so many veggies to dice, I suppose you could toss them all into one pot, but for the sake of how my mind is organized I like using individual ceramic dishes to hold each separately and add one by one per cooking order. Here are some super affordable ones on Amazon similar to mine!
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