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White Corn Chowder

White Corn Chowder
White corn goes quickly at California's farmers' markets because customers like its exceptional tenderness. And for city dwellers who don't have gardens, corn picked the day before—or sometimes early the same morning—is a real treat.

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 6 ears of white corn, husks and silk
      removed
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1 large celery stalk, minced
  • 1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into
      1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives

Directions:

Holding each ear of corn by its pointed end and steadying its stalk end on a cutting board, cut down along the ear with a sharp knife to strip off the kernels, turning the ear with each cut. Alternatively, remove the kernels with a kernel cutter. You will need 4 cups corn kernels. Set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, stock, water and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add the corn, cover and continue to simmer gently until the corn is tender, 3 to 5 minutes more.

Transfer about 4 cups of the soup solids to a food processor along with enough of the cooking liquid to achieve a puree. Secure the lid and cover with a kitchen towel. Process until smooth and return to the pan. Stir in the half-and-half and season with salt and pepper.

Reheat the soup gently over medium-low heat. Ladle into warmed soup bowls and garnish with the chives, dividing evenly. Serve immediately.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New American Cooking Series, California, by Janet Fletcher (Time-Life Books, 2000).