Native Foods's soup of the day was a lovely coconut corn chowder. Creamy, with only a hint of coconut and other south Asian flavors, this soup stayed at the back of my mind until
we were staying with friends in Chicago and my friend Clare and I were trying to plan a menu around what they'd gotten in their CSA box. (I've stopped getting CSAs because it is way too much food for one person, but I love how they force you to be creative). They had corn and "frying peppers," and we were eager to grill out in the nice weather, and so this soup came back to me! We made it that night, and it was great.
I flew back to LA and promptly recreated the soup again, with a few changes (did you know you can grill corn in a frying pan?). This recipe is an amalgam of both of these two soup iterations.
PS Has anyone ever tried huitlacoche (or 'corn smut')? It looks appalling but sounds fascinating.
Roasted Corn Chowder with Coconut Milk
5 ears of corn, shucked
1 poblano pepper
1 TB olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 or 2 cans coconut milk
4-6 c vegetable broth (depending on how much coconut milk you use)
1-4 TB chili-garlic paste, to taste
3-4 TB lime juice
3 TB chopped cilantro
1/4 c chopped basil
1. Grill the corn in a large oiled cast-iron frying pan (like so). Roast the pepper over another gas burner (like so). When they are done, remove from stove and set aside to cool.
2. When cool, use a knife to cut all the kernels of corn off the cob. Discard cobs or save to make stock.
3. When cool, peel the most burned parts off of the poblano pepper. Remove seeds and stalk and coarsely chop the rest.
4. In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion, celery, and garlic with a pinch of salt until fragrant. Then add corn and chopped poblano and cook for another two minutes.
5. Add chili-garlic paste, coconut milk, and broth--use more coconut if you want a richer soup, and more broth if not. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 min.
6. Blend with an immersion blender (or let cool and use a regular blender). Leave it slightly chunky still.
7. Return to pot, bring back up to temperature. Add lime juice to taste. Taste also for chili-garlic sauce and salt. Stir in chopped cilantro and basil and serve. Serves about 6.