You can enjoy sweetcorn chowder at any time of the year, but there's something about tucking into a large bowl in late summer, using fresh seasonal corn, that really can't be beaten. Of course, if fresh corn is unavailable, you can swap in tinned or frozen, which is also delicious.
When I think of chowder, I think of San Francisco, which is one of my favourite cities. Traditionally, it's made with seafood, and one of the spice mixes that's hugely popular on the west coast since way back in 1939 – especially when it comes to seasoning crab – is Old Bay.
Luckily, as a plant-based eater, I've found this mix is also super-tasty with vegetables, especially in this delicious chowder.
Essentially a mix of celery salt, red pepper and paprika, Old Bay is available at Ocado, among other places – but if you can't get hold of any, you can simply mix up your own.
I'd recommend using 2 tbsp celery salt, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, 2 tsp paprika, a good pinch of mustard powder, and another of ground nutmeg. I only use 1 tsp of Old Bay in this recipe, so if you make up your own, you'll have plenty left to use for another time.
You can try serving this chowder San Francisco style by pouring the soup into a large sourdough roll with its middle hollowed out – although it might be easier to serve the bread on the side!
If you're serving this to fewer than six people, I recommend making the whole batch, then freezing or eating the leftovers later in the week.
2 tbsp light oil, such as groundnut
2 leeks, white parts only, finely sliced
650g potatoes, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
3 ears of corn, kernels sliced off the cob
4 cloves garlic, finely grated or crushed
2 bay leaves
Bunch of coriander, stalks finely chopped, leaves picked and roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
Good grinding of black pepper
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning, or home made alternative (see intro for details)
1 litre vegetable stock
200ml oat crème fraîche or cream
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 ear of corn, kernels charred and sliced off the cob
Chopped chives (optional)
1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-low heat and add the leeks. Gently sautée until soft and buttery, making sure they don't brown.
2. When the leeks are ready, add the diced potato, corn, garlic, bay leaves, coriander stalks, salt and black pepper. Stir to combine, and cook for a few mins.
3. Add the paprika and Old Bay and stir to combine, cooking for a further minute before adding the vegetable stock.
4. Bring the stock to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cook for about 20-30 mins, until the potatoes are cooked through.
5. Stir in the oat crème fraîche or cream, and cook for a further few mins. Check for seasoning, then stir in a handful of chopped coriander leaves.
6. When you're ready to serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with a drizzle of oat cream, a pinch of paprika, some extra coriander leaves and charred corn, and the chives, if using, with a hunk of bread on the side.
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