Corn and mushrooms together give an earthy, sweet richness to any meal. In this chowder, adapted from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors, little dairy is used because the corn's "milk" takes care of that. You can even skip the dairy altogether, by substituting filtered water. There's nothing wrong with getting humble white mushrooms, but if can afford them, chanterelles add lustre.
One neat trick my chef brother passed along is an improved corn cutting method. No need to prop the corn up and cut lengthwise. Instead, save yourself the mess of corn flying through the air, and lay it on its side, cutting and turning as you go. Allow your knife to cut two thirds of the way down in to the kernel, and no further. When you finish, reverse the knife and press out the scrapings into your soup pot.
While making this chowder, I became ravenous while sauteeing the mushrooms. It took the potatoes almost half an hour to fully soften, so I kept sneaking bites of the buttery mushrooms and dipping Semifreddi's ciabatta into the broth.
Corn and Mushroom Chowder:
4 large ears of sweet corn shucked (try 2 white and 2 yellow for nice color & presentation)
2 long leeks-sliced, rinsed, and diced
2 yellow waxy potatoes, cleaned and scrubbed, and diced
2 T unsalted butter
2 t fresh chopped thyme
2 cups white or chanterelle mushrooms
1 quart milk
1/2 gallon vegetable stock (Imagine or home made)
1/2 cup cream
Salt, fresh ground pepper, to taste
Melt one tablespoon butter in a soup pot, adding leeks, potatoes and half the thyme. Add 1 cup water, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the corn.
Heat the remaining butter in a wide skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute over high heat, turning often, for about five minutes. Add the mushrooms with their juices to the soup pot, then pour in the stock and milk. Bring slowly to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the cream and add remaining thyme, chives, and season with salt and pepper.