Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summer Corn Chowder

Isn't corn on the cob an essential "summer food"? Have any leftover corn on the cob from a recent barbeque? Perfect! Here's your solution.

Now,  I love the creamy, heavier chowders in the fall and winter but this is summer! The season calls for a fresh, light kind of chowder; a great menu item for the days when it is a little cooler and rainier outside, like it has been this week.

I used tarragon as the herb in this chowder (thanks for the idea "").  I don't actually use it much in my cooking, but I had some for a fun salad I made for a girl's night this week and found it does go well with the corn. Since it has a mild licorice/minty type of flavor, it adds a fresh feel to the soup, which is part of its charm. It you are not a fan of tarragon, I think a little fresh basil would work well instead.

2 cobs of corn (cooked or uncooked)
2 large red potatoes, chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped)
5 cups chicken/vegetable stock
1 TBSP butter/margarine
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1-2 tsp lemon juice
fresh tarragon
salt and pepper

First, cut the corn kernels off the cob and set aside. Boil 5 cups of stock with the cobs also in the pot (this will help give that broth some extra corn taste and add a little body to the base). Saute the butter with the onions and garlic in a skillet for a couple minutes. Add in potatoes and parsnips and toss to coat. Then, once the broth is boiling add in the skillet's mixture. Simmer until potatoes are soft (about 10-15 min). Remove the cobs. Add the milk and corn pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste. Thinly slice some tarragon leaves and sprinkle a little lemon juice right before serving.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Strawberry Soup

I remember when I was young, back when my taste buds were much less adventurous, the thought of cold soup made me squirm. Soup was supposed to be comforting and warm. Perfect on a winter day, not something cold and refreshing on a hot day.  When I had tried them, it wasn't necessarily a good experience.

Then, I went on a cruise to the Caribbean and the chefs there changed my mind. They let you order as many appetizers as you wanted so I always had to try a few each dinner and be adventurous as you wanted. This is where I learned that cold soup could be good!

The secret, in my opinion, to cold soups is to eat them in small portions. They aren't hearty or one-dish-meal worthy but work great as a starter/appetizer or dessert. This one, works as both. I thought it more attractive and not too overwhelmingly sweet when eaten from a dessert bowl or ramekin. I created this recipe to mimic my favorite one from the cruise. I tried to keep the added sugar to a minimum-most other recipes you will see for strawberry soup are loaded with sugar. It is sad, because they are missing out on that fantastic, tangy punch the natural fruit provides.

Since it is the 4th of July this week, wouldn't it be great to impress your dinner guests with a patriotic dessert soup?

There are multiple uses for any leftovers. It freezes great into popsicles or to make smoothies.

Strawberry Soup
1 pint strawberries (hulled)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBSP  or less of sugar
1/4 cup cream
whipped cream and blueberries for garnish

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Chill in the fridge until you serve (I would recommend at least 1 hr). Add garnish and serve.