One of the benefits of getting older is that your friends get older too – and wiser – and usually make better money than back in the day when their income was solely dependent upon asking hungry strangers “would you like fries with that?”. So when my birthday recently rolled around (a big, traumatic one, I might add!) two of my friends knew how to calm down my hysterics: they bought me a subscription to a wine club! Now every couple of months 2 bottles of vino show up on my doorstep, and for this first delivery I invited my generous friends over, then created a meal that was centered around the wines. The hit of the evening was a Chilled Corn & Sun-Dried Tomato Chowder with Goat Cheese-Chive Croutons, paired with a lovely Argentinian Chardonnay.
It’s a rather long title for the recipe, and the list of ingredients is lengthy as well, but in reality this dish takes less than an hour to pull together (minus the chilling time) and yields spectacular results. I’ve been meaning to make this recipe since 1999, when I was traveling in Napa Valley and fell in love with a book called The Wine Lover’s Cookbook (psst! This is listed as one of my recommended books on the blog’s right sidebar). The book asks you first what you’re drinking, then gives suggestions of food to pair with that wine. Everything I’ve made from this book is delicious, and I’m happy to report that this cold chowder was no exception. Here we go:
* 4 ears sweet corn, shucked
* 1-1/2 Tblsp olive oil
* 2 cups chopped sweet onions (Maui, Vidalia or Walla Walla)
* 1 Tbslp chopped fresh tarragon (or 1/2 Tblsp dried)
* 1 Tsp ground cumin
* 1/2 Tsp ground turmeric
* 1-1/2 Tsp minced lemon zest
* (2) 14-1/2 oz cans of chicken stock, plus 6 oz additional
* 3/4 cup white wine
* 1 Tblsp chopped roasted garlic (i speak Foodie note: I used tubed garlic paste instead!)
* 3/4 Tblsp fresh lemon juice
* 1 cup sour cream
* 3/4 cup sun-dried tomato halves, minced then rehydrated in water an drained
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 4 oz goat cheese
* 1 Tblsp minced chives
* 1 sourdough baguette, cut on the diagonal into 12 1/4 inch slices (isF note: I used a regular baguette)
* Garnish: chopped fresh tarragon
Using a serrated knife, remove corn from cob by scraping down the cob (yielding about 2 cups of corn kernels). Reserve the cobs. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil. Add onions, tarragon, cumin, turmeric, and 1 teaspoon lemon zest and saute over medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes until onions get soft. Add corn, the corn cobs you reserved, chicken stock and wine and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 12 minutes. Remove cobs with tongs & throw away.
Carefully transfer some of the soup mixture to a food processor or blender. Add roasted garlic, lemon juice and sour cream. Process soup in batches to as fine a puree as you can get it (it will still be a little chunky). Mix together all of the pureed soup in one large bowl and sprinkle with a little salt & pepper. Add the minced sun-dried tomatoes and stir thoroughly. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, allowing the flavors to come together.
In another bowl, mix together the goat cheese, chives and 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest. Keep in fridge until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, spread the goat cheese mixture onto the sliced baguette. Put under broiler (I use my toaster oven broiler setting), leave there for about 5 minutes or until the bread starts to turn a toasty brown. Divide the soup evenly into 4 bowls, then place 2 crisscrossed croutons halfway into the soup. Garnish with fresh tarragon & enjoy!
This paired beautifully with the Chardonnay, and in fact I used the same wine in the soup as what we were drinking. And don’t skimp out on the goat cheese croutons – they really “make” the dish. This served 4 people as a good-sized bowl of soup, but you could serve 6 with smaller “appetizer” portions. This was the first course, and the second course was created around the bottle of Argentinian Malbec and featured mint-marinated grilled lamb, spinach cakes, Israeli cous cous with cranberries and feta, and chocolate mousse with strawberries for dessert. I can’t wait for my next shipment!