My friends and I tried lots of different food. I determined I do not like chiccarones in sauce, but they're okay to crunch on by themselves. Mexico makes some fabulous cheese. We had delectable churros with three different dipping sauces. There was a smoky mezcal, and some wonderful enchiladas.
But nothing like the recipe I'm writing about today. I don't remember what I was searching for when I found it, but when it caught my eye, I knew I had to try it. The ingredients are pretty simple:
For the soup:
- 8 medium/large ears corn, husks and silks removed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large onion, preferably Spanish, (the white ones) chopped fine
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (I might have added a few more)
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped (I went with two, next time, thinking a couple serranos)
- 1 tablespoon mild chili powder or 1 teaspoon of a hotter one
- 3 tablespoons (25 grams) all-purpose flour
- 4 cups (945 ml) vegetable or chicken stock or broth
- 2 15-ounce cans small red or black beans, drained and rinsed (or one of each) (3 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup (235 ml) whole milk
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper or cayenne to taste
- 1/2 to 1 cup (120 to 235 ml) heavy cream
For the finishing
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) sour cream or Mexican crema
- 1/2 cup (110 grams) finely crumbled Cotija, feta or ricotta salata cheese, plus more for serving (I used Cotija)
- 1 lime, divided
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- Chili powder or a chili-lime seasoning
- Baked tortilla chips (optional)
For the soup: With a sharp knife, cut kernels from 8 ears corn (you should have about 6 cups); transfer half to a bowl. Chop the other half into pulpy bits on a cutting board or blend them in a food processor until half-pureed. Add to bowl. Firmly scrape any pulp remaining on cobs with back of knife into bowl with corn, unless you’re me and had weirdly dry stalks, yielding no corn “milk.” Set corn aside.
In a large (5 quarts is ideal) heavy pot, heat olive oil and butter over medium. Add onion and cook until tender and beginning to brown at the edges, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeño and chili powder and cook together for 2 minutes more. Add flour and stir into onion-garlic mixture until it disappears. Stirring constantly, gradually add stock. Add beans, corn, and 1 cup milk and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 13 minutes, until corn is tender. Add salt (I used about 1 tablespoon Diamond kosher salt total here) and freshly ground black pepper or cayenne to taste (why not both?). Add cream to taste (we found 1/2 cup sufficient, but it will be less creamy than traditional) and cook for 3 minutes more. (I added a bit more cream)
For the topping:
Combine mayonnaise, sour cream or crema, cheese, and juice of half a lime in a bowl; stir to combine. Cut second half of lime into wedges. (Next time, I'm either zesting the lime and adding it, or adding a full lime's worth of juice. It really lightens up the richness of the other three ingredients.
Ladle soup into bowls and dollop in center with 1 tablespoon (or more to taste) of mayo-cheese mixture. Squeeze lime juice over to taste, sprinkle with chili powder and chopped cilantro and serve, baked tortilla chips on the side if you wish. (I used warm multi-grain tortillas instead of chips with a little butter. I didn't really feel the need for crunch)
This was a lot of fun to make and I was thrilled with the results. While it may not qualify as a true chowder because there are not potatoes in it, I found it delicious. Lots of different textures, and a nice warmth on the back end. I do like food a little more spicy than this came out, but that's easily adjusted for the next batch. And it's corn season!