One of my favorite weekend activities is a trip through the farmers’ market. I enjoy watching the produce offerings change throughout the seasons, starting with tender baby greens in early spring, progressing to glistening berries in June, to colorful vegetables like radishes and carrots throughout the summer, finally winding down to fragrant apples, squash, pumpkins and heartier winter vegetables in October and November. Regular walks through the farmer’s market show you the natural progression of the food harvest cycle, and allow you to find ways to eat seasonally as earlier generations must have done in the days before produce was shipped all across the country and available year-round.
This week’s offerings are among my favorite of the summer. Ears of sweet corn, small red potatoes, sweet onions, fennel, colorful heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, and summer squash. Finding corn on the cob at the farmer’s market is bittersweet. It means the end of summer is quickly approaching, giving way to the crisp days of autumn and the start of the new school year. In a month or so, my urge to cook apples will kick in, and my kitchen will be filled with applesauce, pie, and spicy, crunchy apple crisp.
I have found the perfect meal to make the most of the seasonal vegetables available at the farmer’s market right now. While sweet corn is, of course, amazing by itself on the cob, tossed on the grill, and then lightly buttered, if you’re looking for another way to serve it while incorporating much of the other seasonal bounty, then I suggest making a sweet corn chowder.
Sweet Corn Chowder
- 1/2 pound thick cut pepper bacon, diced
- 2 sweet onions, diced
- One carrot, peeled and diced
- One stalk fennel, diced (if you don’t like fennel, you can replace this with celery)
- 1/4 cup flour (or sweet rice flour for gluten-free)
- 8 cups gluten-free chicken stock
- Diced red potatoes (2-3 medium or several small)
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (or to taste – this is optional, but I like a little kick in the chowder to complement the sweet)
- 4 ears sweet corn, husked and cut from cob, with juices reserved.
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional – eliminate for dairy free)
- Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- In a large stock pot, cook bacon until it is crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil. Reduce heat to medium high.
- Add onion, carrots and fennel to the pan and saute stirring occasionally until vegetables soften and start to caramelize, about 5 minutes.
- Add flour to the vegetables and stir constantly to keep it from sticking, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove any brown bits on the bottom. Stir constantly for a few minutes until flour and liquid are well combined and liquid starts to simmer and thicken slightly.
- Add potatoes, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes soften, about 1o to 15 minutes.
- Add bacon, sweet corn and juices and simmer for a few minutes to soften corn and incorporate flavors.
- Add heavy cream, and stir to incorporate.
- Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the chowder with a crusty bread and a dry Riesling (Columbia Cellermaster’s Riesling is a great choice), unoaked Chardonnay, or a Pinot Grigio.