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Roasted Corn & Chorizo Chowder

February 2, 2019

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With much of North America and Europe sitting in a deep freeze, there is little to do by way of coping but make soup. We’ve tried it every which way. Just this week: French onion (makes the whole house smell like onions), pasta e ceci (so good but not substantial), and then, finally, last night, this. A gift in a bowl. Spanish sun on cold-blistered skin.

This is one of the best soups I’ve made in ages. No, it’s one of the best soups I’ve had in ages. It may appear fussier than an average weeknight soup because you have to roast the corn and whip up a little crème fraîche topping, but it’s actually super straightforward and that garlic-infused crème fraîche? It’s the secret sauce – it adds immense amount of flavor, depth and authenticity.

So if you’re somewhere thinking of ways to get through these last 6 weeks of winter, I recommend this garlicky, hot Spanish hug in a bowl. Winter may be long and dark, but that doesn’t mean dinner has to be, too.

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ROASTED CORN & CHORIZO CHOWDER

I got this recipe from The London Cookbook, and did not mess with it much other than not bothering to make my own sofrito (see below for original sofrito recipe if you want to go above and beyond) and not removing the chorizo from the soup as it cooked. The original is posted below with my minor changes. Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a starter; serving with good crusty bread is a must. 

  • 3 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh Spanish chorizo sausage
  • 1 cup peeled and diced potato (I used one large potato)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade (I used a lot more than this)
  • 2 cups sofrito (I used 1 smallish jar of store-bought sofrito, but see below for recipe)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted piquillo peppers (or any roast peppers)
  • 1 cup crème fraîche (or Greek yogurt)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  • Hot paprika or sweet smoked paprika, to taste (I used a big shake of smoked)
  • Red chile flakes, to taste (I didn’t use)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. If using thawed frozen corn kernels, pat them dry with a kitchen towel. Toss the corn with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and then spread out in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast the corn for about 10 – 15 minutes, until the edges are starting to turn a golden brown. Remove from the oven, transfer to a plate, and set aside.

Slice the chorizo or remote from its casing and crumble. Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chorizo and sauté until browned. Transfer the chorizo to another plate. (NB: I didn’t bother removing the chorizo [see: lazy] and it worked just fine.) Toss the potato into the pot and cook, stirring, letting it absorb some of that chorizo goodness. Add the stock, sofritopiquillos, and roasted corn and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer about 20 minutes, until the vegetables soften but haven’t yet lost their texture.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the crème fraîche with the chives, garlic, paprika, and chile flakes. Season with salt and pepper.

Slide the chorizo into the soup, stir in half of the crème fraîche mixture, and cook for 5 minutes longer. Ladle into warmed bowls, dollop with some of the remaining crème fraiche, and lightly dust with paprika (I sprinkled some chives on top, too).

If you have a ton of time on your hands or can’t find store-bought, here’s the recipe for homemade sofrito, also from The London Cookbook:

SOFRITO

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 red bell peppers, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups fresh or canned whole tomatoes
  • 1 fresh or dried bay leaf
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet. Toss in the onions and garlic. Cook gently, stirring often, for about 20 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent but not colored. Peel the bell peppers with a vegetable peeler and add them to the onions. Continue to sauté for another 20 minutes, until they too are soft.

If you are using fresh tomatoes, grate them on the largest holes of a box grater. If you are using canned tomatoes, pulse them in a food processor until they are somewhere between diced and pureed.

When the bell peppers are soft add the tomato and bay leaf and cook at the merest simmer for 25 minutes longer. Add the sugar, season with salt and pepper, and give the sofrito a final stir.

If you are making the sofrito ahead, let it cool completely. Pour into a jar, cover with a thin layer of olive oil, close the lid, and refrigerate for up to 10 days.

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