Thai Corn Chowder
Chowders are a seemingly unfitting companion to the summer heat, but they are actually a crowd favorite in this high season. Corn, squash and potato chowders highlight many a summer menu. This version is considerably lighter, due to the coconut milk, yet still retains a rich and robust flavor that chowders are so famous for.
4 cups fresh corn
4 cups light coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock, prepared
2 cups sweet bell peppers, diced
1 cup red onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 serrano chilis, to taste
2 Tablespoons, Thai chili paste
2-3 Tablespons ginger, fresh or dried
1 stalk lemongrass (or 1 Tablespoon paste, prepared)
2-3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch basil
In a large pot over medium heat, add the coconut oil and sweat the red onion, garlic, bell peppers and serranos. Add the ginger and chili paste to heat through. Stir in the coconut milk, lime juice, 1 cup of the vegetable broth (reserving the remaining cup), and toss in the lemongrass stalk or paste, bringing the mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting the seasoning to taste. Add in the fresh corn, reserving one cup for later.
With an immersion blender, give the contents a quick whirl to your preference. I like to blend just long enough to thicken the chowder, but still see the colors and the ingredients. Conversely, you may wish to throw everything into your Ninja for a smoother consistency before returning the contents to the stock pot. Adjust your seasonings again and use the remaining stock, only if you wish, to thin out your soup. I typically find that I don't need it, but I like it on hand, just in case. Stir in the reserved corn for extra texture.
Try to stay away from seasoning with actual salt as an enhancement here. I have made this mistake in Thai cooking in the past and have been so disappointed. I feel as though all I can taste is salt. These flavors shine on their own, so if you do require a little more punch, try a hint of tamari or liquid amino. It will alter the overall flavor profile, but will still be totally delicious. To finish, stir in your cilantro, basil and even mint (optional), a final squeeze of lime juice, or lime zest. Garnish with fresh herbs, lime slices and even some toasted coconut, if desired.
This chowder is just as outstanding chilled, especially if you go the spicy route. Simply give it a good stir to revive the consistency to enjoy for lunches and dinners to come. Or, try it over jasmine or cauliflower rice as a hearty bowl the following day.