There's a lot of chatter flying about these days.
After a couple of weeks spent traipsing around the unbelievably beautiful, magical New Zealand with dear friends, Jordan and I returned to the States last Wednesday. During our time away, an unarmed black 18 year old was shot six times by a cop, Robin Williams ended his life, and journalist James Foley was beheaded in Syria. Violence escalates in the Middle East, ebola terrorizes West Africa, and Israel and Palestine are engaged in a few-if-any-holds-barred stand off.
I have felt that I should write, felt that I should have something to say, something to offer. But, what can one offer in times like these? What is there to say, really?
It seems that everyone is shouting, desperate to be heard, determined to prove a point, panicked in the face of unanswerable questions, unsolvable dilemmas. No one is really listening, no one is really paying attention to the victims, to those suffering.
So, I continue to sit on a mountain of words, opinions, arguments, pleas. Though my mind is full, though I am unsettled, my tongue is tied, my lips sealed shut by a force that I can only guess is composed of grief, anger, hopelessness.
I can only say that I wish we would listen to each other. I wish we would set aside our agendas and the world views with which we have been indoctrinated long enough to really listen to what the "other" is saying. That we would be slow to speak, quick to assume the posture of a student at the feet of the ones we understand the least. Now is not the time for you to be right. Now is not the time for me to be right. Now is the time for us to work together, to find some sort of middle ground, to recognize one another's human-ness and to honor that which makes us flesh and bone and mind and soul.
This chowder is the result of a kitchen empty of all but a can of coconut milk, a bit of garlic, bags of frozen vegetable scraps, corn, and edamame. The chile, basil, and green cherry tomatoes were provided by the garden. It is a simple chowder, but one that packs plenty of flavor and soul-soothing warmth.
End of Summer Corn and Edamame Chowder with Blistered Green Cherry Tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons Earth Balance, coconut oil, or butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- kernels from 4 ears of corn (or one bag frozen corn)
- 2 cups shelled edamame
- 4 cups vegetable stock*
- 1 Anaheim chile, halved, seeded, and roasted
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- 1/4 cup purple basil, thinly sliced or roughly chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- cornstarch or flour + water (optional)*
- 10-12 green cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon Earth Balance or butter
- 1 teaspoon cane sugar
*Use homemade stock whenever possible. Simply fill a freezer bag with vegetable scraps. Once your bag is full, you're ready to make stock. In this stock, I had swiss chard stems, onion ends and skins, tomato ends, and carrot peels and ends. I added a whole habanero pepper for a touch of spice. Simply cover the frozen scraps with water -- I generally use 6-8 cups, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer for 30-45 minutes. Taste the stock as it cooks, adding a pinch of salt here and there until you reach your desired depth of flavor.
- Turn on your oven's broiler. Halve and seed the Anaheim pepper. Place on a foil-lined plan under the broiler for 7-10 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking. Keep a close eye on the pepper. You want to char the chile's skin, but, of course, not the whole pepper. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add corn and "pan roast" for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the corn begins to brown and absorb the butter. Add your minced garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add edamame and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add vegetable stock to the corn and edamame. Throw in a pinch of red pepper flakes. Go with your gut, you know your level of spice-tolerance, so don't be heavy handed if you prefer a milder soup. You can always add more later. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until edamame has softened.
- Using a food processor, puree half or all of the soup together with the roasted Anaheim chile. I like a little texture to my chowder, so I went with half, if you prefer a smooth chowder, go ahead and puree all of it.
- Add the puree back to the soup, stirring to combine. Add your can of coconut milk and stir. At this point, you will need to decide whether the chowder is thickened to your liking or whether you would like it to be a bit creamier. If you want to thicken the chowder, simply mix equal parts cornstarch or flour and water. If using cornstarch, start with 2 teaspoons starch and 2 teaspoons of water. If using flour, try 1-2 tablespoons of each. Mix water and thickening agent together in a small bowl and, stirring constantly, add to the chowder. If the soup still isn't thick enough, repeat the process. Allow the soup to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- While the soup simmers, heat butter and sugar in a skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat. Add green cherry tomatoes. Expose each side of the tomatoes to the heat for about 30 seconds, until the skin blisters and begins to char. Once the tomatoes have begun to soften, remove from heat. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then slice into quarters.
- The chowder should be heated through at this point. Toss in purple basil and add salt and black pepper until the flavors are balanced and to your liking.
- Serve with crusty bread, whole wheat biscuits, or crackers. Top with extra black pepper.
*I highly recommend reading "Thoughts on Ferguson as a White Woman" from Elizabeth of Delightfully Tacky. She, too, wants us to listen.