One of the books I’ve been spending time with in a cozy chair just leisurely flipping through is Makini Howell’s Plum. It’s a most fitting inspiration right now as we slowly transition into fall. Lots of hearty recipes and simple strategies to make good and honest food even better, right out of her restaurants. I generally aim to choose plant-based and organic foods whenever possible, but I also tend to eat A LOT of that high vibe stuff. I have a fairly active job and have been amping up the workout routine lately (feeling amazing, thanks), so when I’m fixing something up for myself, I’m usually bordering on ravenous. Flipping through this book reassures me that people understand the whole veggie-focused-but-hungry-like-a-wolf thing. There are unusual flavour combinations and full, FULL plates of goodness for all levels of cooks. I’ve already bookmarked the apple tempeh fillets w/ fennel and garlic, the barbecued oyster mushroom sliders w/ pickled onions, the chai-spiced yam bruschetta w/ crunchy kale, and the tiramisu pancakes. I would say that the soon-here fall season is shaping up rather beautifully.
And this soup! I tend to not eat corn very often or shy away from items that feature it because we’re completely spoiled by the best corn EVER in the summertime. My dad plants rows in stages so that we can lengthen its season. Not exaggerating. Truly the best. I had a culinary instructor who explained seasonal cooking like this one time: “If I wanted to make you some corn, like the best possible corn, I would bring a portable stove out to a corn field and we would pick, shuck, and boil it right there. That’s how delicate the situation is.” I was fist bumping that sentiment with my mind before he even formed the entire thought. SO crucial to get it fresh while it’s on. The sugars fade to starch and just like that–chewy, dry corn experience. Frozen kernels would be just as tasty in this soup if corn isn’t so fresh where you live.
I was rather pleased with the outcome of this though. The addition of millet fills the bowl out and the ratio of greens was spot on. So satisfying and perfect in these late summer evenings. It was nice to hover over the pot while it simmered, quieting all of the busy thoughts. Summer’s typical cooking/non-cooking techniques seem to lack those clarifying moments, so a return is rather welcome. Maybe a few more sliced tomato lunches first though :)
CREAMY MILLET CORN CHOWDER WITH GREENS
Print the recipe here!
C 2013 By Makini Howell. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro by permission of Sasquatch Books.
NOTES: I only made a couple minor changes to this recipe. Howell specifies baby spinach for the greens component, but I didn’t have any. So I clipped a bunch of baby leaves from our chard, kale and beet plants outside and threw them in at the end. I added a bit of smoked paprika and decided to blend a portion of the soup for extra creaminess. After I cut the kernels off, I slipped the cobs in with the millet cooking water for extra corn flavour vibes. Lastly, we have mammoth chives in the garden currently, so I swapped them in for the specified green onions. I’m also going to add that you shouldn’t be afraid to use some salt in this recipe. The millet and potatoes tend to soak up a lot of it and I mean, corn seriously loves the stuff–it amplifies the flavour quite a bit.
3/4 cup millet, rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small hot pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 baby potatoes, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (reserve the cobs if you’re using fresh)
10-12 blades of chives, chopped (or a bunch of green onions)
2 cups small greens (baby spinach, small kale + chard leaves etc)
salt + pepper
extra chives, paprika, extra virgin olive oil and fresh pepper for garnish/serving
In a medium stockpot, bring 7 cups of water to a boil along with the stripped corn cobs. Add the millet and a pinch of salt. Cook until the millet is barely tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the corn cobs with tongs and drain the millet, reserving the liquid.
Wipe out the pot and heat the olive oil in it over medium. Add the garlic, hot pepper, cumin and smoked paprika. Sauté the mix until the garlic starts to appear golden in spots, about 30 seconds. Add the diced potatoes and 6 cups of the millet/corn stock to the pot. bring the soup to a boil.
Add the cooked millet and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes or so. At this point you can purée 5-6 ladlefuls of soup in the blender and add the creamy mix back into the pot if you want a creamier consistency. Your call! Then add the corn, chives and greens to the pot, give it a stir and allow the greens to wilt just a tiny bit.
Serve the millet corn chowder hot with extra chives, sprinkles of paprika/pepper and drizzles of olive oil if you like.