From Too Many Chefs -

June 23, 2005
Chipotle Corn Chowder

One of the recent food magazines had a recipe for corn soup with a swirl of adobo sauce. I was convinced I was going to make that dish tonight, but I couldn't find the magazine I'd read the recipe in and couldn't remember all the ingredients or any of the proportions. Thus does "recipe" become "inspiration".

What attracted me to the original recipe was the combination of sweet corn with milk and spicy chipotle chiles in adobo sauce.

Chipotles are smoked jalapenos. They can be found dried, but they are best purchased canned in a spicy vinegary adobo sauce. Chipotles tast to me like the physical incarnation of smoldering. The fire from the pepper itself is somewhat smothered by the deep smoky flavor. For this recipe you won't need much, so buy a small can.

Serves four. Beware the heat. It can creep up on you all unexpected-like. Have a beer or a glass of milk nearby.

Chipotle Corn Chowder
4 cups frozen corn kernels
1/2 white onion, diced (or 1/4 of a BIG white onion)
2 small shallots, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
thumb0sized piece of ginger, diced finely
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper or to taste
4-6 fresh sage leaves, minced
2 diced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
4 teaspoons adobo sauce from can of chipotles in adobo
3 cups skim milk

Heat oil and butter in a soup stock pot until butter foams. Add onions and shallots and salt. Sautee until onions are tender and just starting to go translucent. You don't want color on the onions.

Add ginger, corn, and milk and stir well. Heat through until all in the pot is hot. Don't let milk boil.

Add chopped chipotles and sage and stir. Add black and red pepper (if using). Stir and taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Blend soup in a food processor or with an immersion blender and serve with a one teaspoon swirl of adobo sauce from the chipotle chile can on top of each bowl. Serves 4.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at June 23, 2005 7:31 AM | TrackBack

Sounds lovely! Do you think it would work cold? (Paris is going through a heat wave at the moment!)

Posted by Meg in Paris on June 23, 2005 at 7:51 AM

I don't know. Not enough survived the initial encounter. I'd guess it'd be OK, though you might downplay the chipotle swirl since I don't think of cold and spicy going together.

Posted by barrett on June 23, 2005 at 9:30 AM
I don't think of cold and spicy going together.

Um...salsa? Gazpacho? Bloody Marys?? Okay, they all involve tomatoes but they are all also cold and spicy!

Posted by Meg in Paris on June 23, 2005 at 10:11 AM

Meg: I just found out they have corn kernels at Picard! I was schlepping all the way to Chinatown for corn on the cob last summer. Il fait chaud! -David

Posted by David Lebovitz on June 23, 2005 at 10:57 AM

Ooh, now that's worth knowing - thanks for the tip!!

Posted by Meg in Paris on June 23, 2005 at 10:59 AM

Chipotle en adobo is really good for pairing with the supersweet varieties of corn which are glutting the American markets. I don't much care for those varieties myself--they taste more like candy than corn, but I discovered that if you use them in a corn chowder with chipotle en adobo and some bacon, the supersweet corn suddenly becomes a flavor that I can get behind.

Posted by Barbara on June 23, 2005 at 11:22 AM

OK, you got me. Maybe it's the tomato that makes cold and spicy work. I'd be willing to make another batch and try it. It only took 20 minutes to make this batch.

Posted by barrett on June 23, 2005 at 11:53 AM

Yeah, I dunno. Those canned things are good, but can be awful strong. If you want some of the best smoked chile peppers ever, dial in:
Their smoked chile peppers come out soft and leathery. Use the canned soupy ones if you must, but at least give these folks a try and see what a real smoked pepper is all about. I have them on-hand at all times. Yes, traditionally the Chipotle is a smoked Jalapeno, but truthfully, they're all good.


Posted by Dr. Biggles on June 23, 2005 at 9:01 PM

Barrett, this looks tremendous and it's definitely something I'll be trying. Thanks!

Posted by Linda on June 23, 2005 at 9:31 PM

Soupy? I'm not sure which brand of peeprs in adobo you've been buying, Doc B. The ones I get are in a sauce thick as can be and very very tasty.

Posted by barrett on June 23, 2005 at 11:00 PM

Hey Barrett,

Yes, the chiles in cans are tasty. But as with most food related situations, canned isn't as good as 'fresh'.
Let's pretend you wanted some fresh peaches. Would you opt for the canned peaches from Dole? Or would you rather have something from a local farm?
Do you wish to have spam over a naturally raised hog's loin roast?
I'm not saying the canned chipotle peppers are bad, but you can do better. You can do better VERY easily.
The ball is in your court.


Posted by Dr. Biggles on June 23, 2005 at 11:35 PM

If you're making a spaghetti sauce do you use canned tomatoes or fresh? In most cases the canned tomatoes are going to be better than the fresh because they've been allowed to ripen on the vine and then canned after developing fully. The fresh tomatoes will usually be flavorless since they're picked too early so they'll survive transportation.

Canning has a bad reputation, but select foods are very good out of a can. I'll keep an open mind about fresh chipotles, but in mind the adobo sauce in the can is just as important as the chiles in this recipe.

Thanks for the comments. I'll definitely check out that vendor for chipotles

Posted by barrett on June 24, 2005 at 7:13 AM

You cannot, under any circumstances call any smoked item "fresh."

It is preserved. Smoke is a preservative. Sorry, Dr. Biggles, but while I agree with your general theory that "canned" food products in general are inferior to "fresh," I will quibble with your usage of the word "fresh" to denote any kind of smoked product.

Canning, drying, smoking, salting, brining, pickling, freezing, jellymaking, fermentation--all of these techniques were develped in order to preserve a fresh food for the lean times of the winter. They are mankind's way of hedging our bets for the winter.

The fact that each of these techniques create food products with better or more interesting flavors than the "fresh" item is merely a side benefit. A side benefit that with the advent of refrigeration that was cheap enough for most people in the Western world to use, was made the entire point of many preservation exercises.

That said, I agree with Barrette on the issue of canned tomatoes vs. fresh in pasta sauces, and I agree with him on some canned chipotle en adobo being plenty thick and tasty. And sorry--the smoked chiles used in those cans are just as "real" as the ones you are calling fresh. And I bet that while the "fresh" ones taste plenty good, they probably are not "better" in a quantifiable sense than the ones in the can--just different.

It is all a matter of taste, really, and whether or not you want just the chile, or you want the thick adobo sauce that comes with it.

Posted by Barbara on June 24, 2005 at 9:02 AM

Dang, Barbara!

Posted by chef 'em out on June 24, 2005 at 11:16 AM

I gotta say, you just NEVER know which posts are going to generate a lot comments...

Posted by barrett on June 24, 2005 at 1:47 PM

Hmm, I wasn't talking about tomatoes. I use canned tomatoes because of the reasons you gave.
I use freshly smoked & dried chiles from Tierra Vegetables because of the quality and flavor I can't get with the canned chipotle chile peppers. As I said, the canned ones are tasty (this is a good thing).
Just offering up a another way of doing the same thing.


Posted by Dr. Biggles on June 24, 2005 at 2:40 PM