I have many posts to share  – and quickly – as the summer produce transitions into fall.  As mentioned in previous notes, here in Napa we are finding the last of heirloom tomatoes, corn and pears…along with new crops of pumpkins, apples and figs.  At the St Helena Farmers’ Market, I bought some of the sweetest corn I have had all ‘summer’ from Long Meadow Ranch.  As the weather provides a bit of chill in the air, I thought it was time for soup.  And so this version of corn chowder was born…

Corn Chowder with Pesto – Serves 4-6

Everyone has their own favorite recipe for chowders.  With this, I puree the vegetables to thicken and use oat milk instead of cream.  No one will know its dairy-free. The best pancetta in the world comes from The Fatted Calf.  For a vegetarian version, omit the bacon and sub vegetable broth for chicken.

4 tablespoons butter
1/4 lb. pancetta, chopped, or 1-2 slices bacon
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 cups fresh corn kernels, from about 6 ears corn
1 cup diced potato
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup oat milk (could also use regular if no dairy issues)
Sea salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan (I use my Dutch Oven), melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the bacon renders its fat, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add the celery and cook for 4 or 5 more minutes.

Add corn and potato and cook another 5 minutes. Transfer half the mixture into a food processor or blender and add 1 cup stock. Blend until smooth.

Return mixture to the saucepan, and add second cup of stock and oat milk. Cook over medium-low heat until just simmering and potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

Ladle into bowls and top with any flavor pesto.


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