Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Saffron Cream

  • 6 large ears fresh corn or 5 cups frozen corn kernels

    Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Saffron Cream. MUST CREDIT: Photo for the Washington Post by Deb Lindsey.

    Photo for the Washington Post by Deb Lindsey.

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into ½-inch squares
  • 1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch squares
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch squares
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T flour
  • 4 c no-salt-added vegetable broth
  • ¾ c heavy cream
  • 1 t crumbled saffron threads
  • 2 scallions (trimmed), white and green parts very thinly sliced
  • 1 T minced fresh chives

If you’re using fresh corn, shuck the ears, discard the silks and trim off the ends so you can stand the cob flat. Working with one at a time, stand each cob on its end inside a large bowl; use a sharp knife to remove the kernels by working the blade straight down against the cob. Use the blunt side of the knife to then scrape down the cob; this will help release any milky corn liquid. Stir that liquid and the corn together. Reserve the spent cobs.

Warm the oil in a large stockpot over medium-low heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until translucent. Add half the yellow bell pepper and half the red bell pepper, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the sweet potato, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring well to coat all the vegetables, for 2 minutes. Increase the heat to high; gently whisk in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the corncobs (not the corn kernels). Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until the potato is almost tender.

Combine the cream and saffron in a small saucepan over low heat; once the mixture is warmed through, stir it and let it steep (off the heat) for 5 minutes.

Add the saffron cream, corn kernels and corn milk to the stockpot; cook for 5 minutes. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Use tongs to remove the cobs from the pot; holding each one over the pot, use a knife to scrape off any bits of chowder or corn clinging to the cob. Ladle the chowder into mugs or bowls; sprinkle with the scallions, chives and the remaining red and yellow bell peppers, then serve.