I made this a couple of weeks ago with a cashew cream base, and thought that it would also be awesome with fresh, grilled corn. This recipe is one of my teenager's favorites and I've adapted it into two recipes - one with a cashew base, another with a non-nut base. This recipe works well with freshly grilled, canned or frozen corn.
I normally cook my corn in the husk in the microwave for 6 minutes, and it comes out steamed and juicy. With this recipe, because I really wanted the grilled flavor, and I didn't want to cook 24 ears in the microwave, and I had some extra kids hanging around with time on their hands who were available to help shuck corn and man the grill...I created the grilled option - but work with what you have!
To grill corn: (this process takes about an hour)
Carefully peel husks back, (some outer leaves may be removed) and remove silk. Pull husks back up into place to protect the corn.
Soak corn in a bucket or tub of water with 1-2 Tablespoons salt for 10 - 30 minutes. This will help the husks to not burn so quickly.
Shake off excess water, and place corn on preheated grill, and turn every 5 minutes, grilling for about 20 minutes. Take care not to burn (too much). If a charred look or flavor is desired, peel husks back, and place on grill for a few moments to achieve desired charring.
To release corn kernels from husks, stand cob in a large bowl or pan, and with a knife placed close to the center of the cob, slice/cut in a swift downward motion. Slightly rotate corn, and repeat until all kernels are removed from the cob: I learned this trick from my grandfather who had dentures - and he usually used a butter knife.
*3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-2" chunks (Russet or Yukon) - see note
*1.5 cups peeled carrots - sliced into 1-2" chunks - see note
*3 quarts water with 1 teaspoon salt - see note
1.5 cups raw cashews
4 cups of water
Corn kernels from 4-6 ears of corn on the cob (or two 16 oz cans canned corn)
1-2 cans diced green chiles, or 1 diced jalapeno
1/2 - 1 cup. dry Maseca corn tortilla mix (found in hispanic or flour section of grocery store)
1-2 t. liquid smoke (optional) OR 1 t. smoked paprika
1 t. lemon juice
1.5 t. cumin (adjust to taste)
1/2 t. chili powder (adjust to taste)
Dash cayenne powder (optional - adjust to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
While the corn is grilling, place potatoes and carrots in a pan, with water, and boil until tender, (about 10-15 minutes.)
Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, (leave water in pan) and place them into the blender. Add water from pan to blender as needed, and puree until smooth. Return to pan (with the water), and stir to combine.
OR Blend cashews in 4 c. water until smooth and place in a large pan.
Sautee onion, garlic and celery in a frying pan with water until tender. Add to the potato/carrot/water mixture OR cashew/water mixture.
Place 2 cups of grilled corn into blender (or 1 can), and blend until smooth. Use potato/carrot water mixture or add additional water as needed.
Add to pan with other ingredients.
Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
For potato/carrot option - to thicken this chowder base, place 1/2 cup Maseca corn/tortilla flour into a small bowl and add cold water, mixing until it reaches the consistency of a thick gravy. Remove 1/2 cup of boiling chowder from the pan and mix into the maseca mixture - it will quickly thicken. Stir this mixture back into the chowder to thicken, and repeat this process until desired thickness is achieved.
For cashew cream option, if mixture is already at desired consistency, do nothing. To thin, add additional water to desired consistency, or use the maseca option above to thicken if desired.
Add additional corn kernels (1-2 cups,) diced (grilled optional) jalapenos or diced green chiles (including juices,) cumin, chili powder, lemon juice, liquid smoke/smoked paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Sweetness may be adjusted with a small amount of maple syrup or molasses if needed. Heat, then serve.
Garnish with chopped bell peppers, cilantro or pico de gallo if desired.
We enjoy this with a fresh garden or fruit salad, and hot sourdough bread with either chimi churri, or a fresh herb spread (chopped fresh herbs, salt, and a little coconut milk blended together.)
*Note - for a quicker or cashew cream based chowder, the boiled potatoes and carrots may be omitted and replaced with a cashew cream. To create this, combine 1.5 cups raw cashews in a high speed blender with 4 cups of hot water. Blend until smooth, and use this as the chowder base. This cream base will thicken when heated, so it may need to be thinned with water to desired consistency.