Mexican Inspired Vegetable Corn Chowder

Healthy and Chockfull of Later Summer Vegetables
As the Summer produce season either nears its end or produces an abundance of garden bounty, now is the time to start stock piling your favorite Summer vegetables while they are at their peak.  This soup is a perfect all-weather tonic to use what's in the market now, or to make and freeze for another time.  You can freeze the vegetables and make the soup later, or make the soup now and freeze the soup for another time. Either way, it's a way to capture the best of what's coming into the Farmers' Markets now.

This soup is vegan, not because I'm vegan, but because it just works well that way.  You can use a home-made or store bought vegetable or chicken stock.  You can add some cream at the end of making this, and you can add some shredded chicken (rotisserie, grilled, sautéed, etc) or even a bit of silken tofu to it to amp up the protein quotient.  Having worked in vegetarian kitchens, then having worked at a place where I need to "keep kosher" during the work day, making things vegan or vegetarian friendly has become second nature to me.  Even though I'm no longer beholden to those rules, there's something wonderful about cooking food from scratch that starts with water and winds up with a miracle of deliciousness!

I made the soup in my InstantPot/Pressure Cooker.  It can be made on the stove top in a stock pot and I'll notate the cooking times.  If you are curious about pressure cookers they do work well and this soup was done in less than an hour.  With prep time, I'd say it was an hour and half altogether, but definitely under 2 hours from start to finish for those of you not quite as fast in the kitchen.  There's no cream, butter, or unnecessary fat or salt in this.  I used water, aromatic vegetables, corn cobs and corn, lime zest and juice, salt, pepper, hot sauce, herbs, cumin and smoked paprika.  It's lightly salted and highly spiced.

To work around not adding additional cream, butter, or fat, I purred two cups of the soup once it was done, to aid in thickening and texture.  If you want to use chicken or vegetable stock, please do.  Note that your stock should be the best quality and low-sodium.  Since you make the stock as you make this soup, there's really no need to go out an buy any.
Aromatic Veggies are the base for this soup -
making a vegetable stock as you make the soup in one step

Mexican Vegetable Corn "Chowder"Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable or Canola or Light Olive Oil
  • 3 Large Carrots - Medium Dice (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
  • 3 Large Celery Stalks - Medium Dice (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
  • 1 Large White Onion - Medium Dice (about 2 1/2  to 3 cups)
  • 2 Bell Peppers (Red/Yellow/Green) - Medium Dice (about 2 cups)
  • 1 Medium Poblano Pepper - Medium Dice (About 1 1/2 Cups)
  • 5-6 Garlic Cloves - Minced (about 1/4 Cup)
  • 5 Ears Corn - Shucked from the Cobs (about 4 cups corn kernels), Cobs reserved
  • 3-4 Stems of Fresh Thyme or 1 Tablespoon Dried Thyme
  • 1-2 Stems of Fresh Oregano or 1/2 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
  • 3 1/2 Cups Cold Water
  • Zest and Juice of 1 Lime (about 2-3 tablespoons lime juice)
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper - to taste
  • 2-3 Dashes Hot Sauce (optional)
  • 1/4 Cup Cilantro - Lightly Minced - for garnish (optional)

One Pot Cooking in a pressure cooker -
Saute the veggies, add in corn cobs and seasonings
cook and voila! Soup in under 2 hours!
Directions:

  1. Wash and prepare all the vegetables.  Turn on the pressure cooker/InstantPot to the sauté function.  Preheat the oil until it shimmers then add in all of the aromatic vegetables, carrots through peppers.  Sauté for 15-20 minutes or until the water the vegetables give off evaporates and the vegetables being to take on a light golden colour.  Stir in the garlic and sauté another 5 minutes.
  2. Next, add in the cumin and smoked paprika and stir to combine and to toast the spices.  Add in the thyme, oregano, corn cobs and 3 1/2 cups cold water.  Put the lid onto the IntantPot, making sure that the seal is closed and the steam valve is shut.  Press the soup button and set for 15 minutes.
  3. Once the pressure cooker has reached pressure, cook for 15 minutes, then let the pressure come down naturally for 10 minutes before opening the lid.
  4. Carefully open the lid and remove the corn cobs, the thyme and oregano stems.  Add in the corn kernels, zest and juice of 1 lime, a generous pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Put the pressure cooker lid back onto the pot and set the time, manually for 5 minutes more.  Allow pressure to build up, cook and release naturally for 10 more minutes. 
  5. Once the soup is done, taste and adjust seasonings, adding a few dashes of hot sauce, salt and pepper as needed.  
  6. To thicken the soup and help with the texture, puree about 2 1/2 cups of the soup and vegetables either in a food processor, blender, or use an immersion blender.  Be sure to cool the soup down before you puree it so you don't burn yourself.
  7. Garnish with chopped cilantro at the end and before serving.
  8. Makes about 8 cups of soup.  Cool in a shallow pan before putting into a container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.  Alternatively, after the soup is cooled, you can freeze it in small portions or in freezer bags for up to 3 months.
Notes:  To make this in a stock pot or Dutch Oven Pot - use a 5 quart or larger pot with a heavy bottom.  Preheat the oil over medium-high heat and sauté your vegetables tor 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently so they don't burn. Build up some colour and flavor to the veggies as they saute. Add in seasonings to toast; corn cobs and water, and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat down to low and simmer slowly for about 45 minutes to an hour before adding in the corn kernels, lime zest and juice, salt, pepper and the hot sauce.  Cook for an additional 15 minutes before tasting and adjusting your seasonings.  Again, cool the soup before pureeing it in a blender or food processor to avoid burning yourself or having the heat "seal" shut a machine like a Ninja or Magic Bullet Blender blade to the container.  




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