Last summer I made a habanero mango butter to slather on some fresh grilled corn. I believe it was a Bobby Flay recipe. I can’t remember, but it gave the corn a sweet, salty, spicy contrast that really elevated the corn which can be a rather boring vegetable. And so a year later, inspired by the habanero corn pairing, we have a new twist on corn chowder.
Don’t let the habanero shy you away from making this soup. Only a half pepper is used to give the chowder just a slight amount of heat. I promise. It’s more on the mild side, but the cumin and smoked paprika add a smoky flavor without having to add bacon, keeping it vegetarian.
The corn is simply charred on an open flame. The corn cooks pretty quickly using this method. If you don’t have a gas stove, you could use a grill pan or even roast the corn. If you have a favorite method for cooking corn, please share in the comment section for all of us to read. Always looking for new ideas.
Normally, regular ole spuds are used in chowders, but I have a fondness for sweet potatoes. Not only are they nutrient packed, but sweet potatoes play on the smokiness from the paprika and spices so well. I do want to point out the potato pictured isn’t technically a sweet potato. It’s a garnet yam. If you can get your hands on either jewel or garnet yams, I highly recommend them. They have a deep orange flesh color and richer flavor than the sweet potato in my opinion.
The soup looks deceivingly hot from the color of the broth. No worries. The smoked paprika gives it that vibrant orange color. Not the habanero. The habanero only gives a hint of spiciness. A chowder topped with fresh avocado and a squeeze of lime juice rounds out the flavors. Who can resist?
Habanero, Charred Corn, and Sweet Potato Chowder
Don’t let the habanero shy you away from making this soup. Only a half pepper is used to give the chowder just a slight amount of heat. The soup is actually on the milder side. You could add the whole pepper if you want it extra spicy. Make sure to wear gloves when handling hot peppers. Don’t skip out on the lime and avocado. It rounds out the flavors, making it even more delicious.
serves 2 to 4
2 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 habanero pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 small sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup milk
diced avocado, for serving
lime wedges, for serving
To char the corn, use tongs and place one ear of corn over a medium-low flame on a gas stove. Rotate frequently on all sides (you will hear popping sounds) for about 10 minutes until charred. Repeat for the remaining ear of corn. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cob. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, peppers, and garlic. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until softened. Add the cumin, smoked paprika, and sweet potatoes. Season with salt. Add the broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Stir in the milk and corn. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until potatoes are tender. Season with salt to taste.
Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with avocado and a squeeze of lime juice.