Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for sweetcorn chowder with smoky chipotle oil

Back in the mists of time (from the 16th century onwards), French fishermen from Brittany travelled back and forth to Newfoundland in Canada to fish. At some point along the way, it’s thought their fish and potato stew cooked in a chaudière became American chowder. Vandag, chowder has splintered into many variations; some are made with tomatoes and others without any fish. My recipe borrows mostly from a New England variation made with sweetcorn, and is a perfect winter warmer. Daarin, potato offers velvet reassurance, sweetcorn pops with optimism, leeks and onion give sweet and savoury pungency and, for a bit of sparkle, there’s a salty smoky chipotle oil to finish.

I think this is a complete meal in itself, and doesn’t need anything else to accompany it. I’ve used frozen corn, but if you have tinned, drain a standard 198g tin to get 160g sweetcorn. You’ll need a blender.

Berei voor 15 min
kok 30 min
Bedien 4

75ml rapeseed oil, plus 2 tbsp extra
2 tbsp dried chipotle flakes
Fine sea salt
200g frozen sweetcorn
, defrosted
2 leeks, trimmed and finely sliced (225g net)
1 brown onion, peeled and finely sliced
4 knoffelhuisies, geskil en gerasper
500g potato, peeled and cubed into 1cm cubes
2 tbsp vegetable bouillon, dissolved into 500ml water
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
1 tsp cider vinegar, or lemon juice

Make the chipotle oil first. Heat the oil in a medium to large saucepan until hot, add the chipotle flakes and a half-teaspoon of salt, then take off the heat. Swirl, leave to cool a little, then carefully pour into a heatproof bowl to cool down further.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the same pan, indien nodig, and put it on a high heat. When very hot, add the sweetcorn in a single layer (if possible) and leave for two minutes to char slightly. Stir, leave undisturbed for another two minutes, until you see a good bit of colour, then tip into a medium bowl.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, set it over a medium heat, then add the leeks and onion, and saute for eight minutes, tot sag. Add the garlic, cook for two minutes, then add the potato, bouillon and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt, and bring up to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook gently for 10 minute, until the potato is cooked through and the tip of a knife slips in and out easily.

Return the sweetcorn to the pan (if you wish, reserve a small handful to decorate the soup), add the coconut milk and vinegar, bring back to a boil, then take off the heat.

Using a stick blender, blend the soup for 10-15 sekondes, to thicken it a little (or ladle a third to a half of the soup into a blender, blitz, then pour back into the pan). Proe en pas die geurmiddels aan, indien nodig, then ladle into bowls, sprinkle over the reserved corn, as jy dit gebruik, drizzle with the smoky chipotle oil and serve.

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