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creamy millet corn chowder with greens


“Does this rye have wheat in it?” my coworker asked me last Saturday night. One of her tables had asked for a rye-based drink, but the woman had a wheat intolerance.

“Well, rye IS wheat technically, so yes. Maybe ask her if she drinks a certain type? I don’t know…” I replied.

A few minutes later I saw her pouring the whiskey of choice for the table. Full on rye. Wheat in the glass. That woman, with her laundry list of food sensitivities, was full of shit. “She’s an idiot” I said and we had a laugh.

So yeah. In one move I completely wrote this stranger off as a human being over a libation choice essentially. I feel like working in hospitality tends to encourage that kind of dismissiveness in even the most genuinely wonderful people. You see and feel the wrath of it all. I’m working on avoiding the motions that always lead to scorn and the whole empathy thing, I swear. It just takes time and and some intention in terms of arming yourself with better stress-coping mechanisms–sipping the good tea, staring at the trees, laughing, carving out time alone to lose yourself in books and other pursuits. It’s all been good.

***EDIT!: It’s been kindly brought to my attention that the distillation process of whiskey-making may very well remove the glutenous/wheat-y properties of the grain that cause digestion/overall living troubles for many. I really, really, big-time send apologies for the ignorance and like I said, totally working on trying to understand/not being so fast to judge thing. Hope we can still be friends :)***

One of the books I’ve been spending time with in a cozy chair just leisurely flipping through is Makini Howell’s Plum (link). 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
C 2013 By Makini Howell. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro by permission of Sasquatch Books.
serves: 4
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 soup hot with extra chives, sprinkles of paprika/pepper and drizzles of olive oil if you like.

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thecitygourmand21/08/2013 - 4:44 am

A brilliant photo series + beautiful ingredients!

Harriet21/08/2013 - 5:18 am

Oh man, hospitality brings out the best and worst in people for sure. I share your sentiments! But soups like this look like that could fix anything that ails anyone. I’m yet to try millet, but I love the look of it in this soup.

Kiran @ KiranTarun.com21/08/2013 - 6:06 am

I could easily down a few bowls of this delicious and comforting corn chowder!!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar21/08/2013 - 7:39 am

This looks fabulous, and lovely photos as always!

Emma Galloway21/08/2013 - 8:33 am

Love the sound and look of this chowder and stoked to see the addition of millet, it’s one of my favourite ingredients and I can see how it’s creaminess would be a welcome thing here. I hear ya on the hospitality thing too, I once took a woman into our kitchen to show her the recipe we used for our chutney, assuring her it was gluten-free. And then she ate cake. With wheat. Sadly it’s people like those who give the rest of us ‘gluten-free’s’ a bad name :-/

Nicole21/08/2013 - 9:31 am

This looks incredible! I’m always looking for a new way to use my CSA greens. So pretty, too.

erin21/08/2013 - 10:40 am

I never thought I would miss living in the midwest but not having good sweet corn is a downer- I could never get over how sweet and delicious freshly picked sweet corn taste! I’m putting this soup on my to-make list anyway and I’m thinking I’ll try cracking the millet first for a bit of extra creaminess :)

Megan Gordon21/08/2013 - 11:31 am

YES!!! This looks so, so wonderful. I’m a millet fan through and through and would’ve never thought up this recipe. Lovely photos, as always. And a much needed hit of inspiration.

Danielle21/08/2013 - 1:01 pm

This sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing. I also appreciate your honesty. It’s hard to maintain empathy, especially in the hospitality industry, so I think it’s so important to be conscious of our immediate thoughts and opinions about others.

Renee @ Nourish The Roots21/08/2013 - 1:57 pm

Oh, I can definitely relate to dealing with customers in the restaurant world…it’s a funny thing isn’t it? Gorgeous recipe and photos, as usual. I have to get me some fresh corn stat!!! Much love to you. ~Renee

This looks incredible! What a great idea to use millet in a soup.

Lindsey22/08/2013 - 8:59 am

This soup is super. I love how textured and layered it is, totally different from a pureed cold corn soup I had the other day. It’s amazing how important freshly picked produce is. I know I won’t have an opportunity this summer, but hopefully next summer I will find myself in a field of corn, near a pot of boiling water!

Gabby22/08/2013 - 1:26 pm

I made this dish yesterday, fantastic. I had never had millet before I tried this recipe. Fresh squeeze of lemon on top really brightened up the dish!

The corn chowder sounds to-die-for!And these photos are GORGEOUS, doll! xo

carey23/08/2013 - 8:28 am

Owning a large enough plot of land to be able to grow massive gardens that include rows and rows of corn is a dream of mine that will one day happen. I’m now considering seriously looking into this husband-finding thing so I can put a portable stove on the wedding registry.

I’m hovering in that almost-fall limbo place when it comes to food, and a not-too-hearty soup filled with late summer flavors like this is the thing I want to eat. (Like, right. now. For breakfast. Because it’s cold, and I woke up early, and reading the phrase “veggie-focused-but-hungry-like-a-wolf” has made me extra hangry.)

Laura Wright25/08/2013 - 9:04 am

That’s such a great idea, Gabby. I froze a bunch of the soup to enjoy when things get colder here. Will totally be hitting the reheated bowls with some lemon or lime. Thanks!

Chiara M25/08/2013 - 11:32 am

Would you think you could replace the millet with bulgar? I’ve never cooked with millet so I’m not sure how it cooks up or compares.

Laura Wright26/08/2013 - 9:50 am

Hey Chiara, bulgur tends to not go as creamy or break down as much as millet. Also the cooking time is much shorter so you would have to adjust for that too (I don’t think it would need the pre-cook like I do with the millet in this recipe). The bulgur will make for a fairly different result than what you see here I think. You might want to purée a larger portion of the soup to get that creamy quality. Hope that helps!
-L

katheryn @ wineandthyme26/08/2013 - 9:03 pm

I wish customers could be recommended for “restaurant sensitivity training”. I would volunteer to teach the classes if it meant a generation of people who were more patient because they realized what went into their meal.
Also, my former roommate who had celiac disease (I know its a step above intolerance) stayed far away from whiskey so it definitely doesn’t remove everything. This makes me wonder.. can the gluten intolerant eat regular oats? Or share toasters and non-stick pans with us glutenous folk? So many questions!

Nina29/08/2013 - 5:07 am

Oh, I don`t blame you at all for your reaction, I tend to react in the same way. But seen as I am wheat intolerant I wanted to explain that while rye is a member of the wheat tribe and closely related to wheat itself, people who are wheat intolerant can usually eat it. Just like spelt. :) That soup makes me look forward to fall, millet is one of my ultimate comfort foods.

Kulsum01/09/2013 - 2:10 am

I am so envious of your access to fresh corn. Dream like!In general we all need to be less judgemental, atleast I do :)

[…] creamy millet corn chowder with greens […]

Lauren08/09/2013 - 9:10 pm

I made this tonight and it didn’t quite turn out like yours. For one, it seemed a lot thicker. I kept adding more water because it almost had the consistency or grits. I didn’t cook it longer than the recipe required. Also, I found it REALLY needed salt. Otherwise it was nice. My boyfriend loved it. Thanks.

Laura Wright09/09/2013 - 8:35 pm

Hey Lauren,

Thanks for your feedback and for making the recipe! I wonder if your corn had a touch more starch in it than mine? Can’t figure out why it would thicken up so much… Also, I’m with you on the hefty salt. Corn, grains + potatoes looooove it. I always write the salt amount in a recipe as a “to taste” context but somewhat secretly generally use a lot myself :)
-L

Kimiko12/09/2013 - 1:33 am

I had high hopes for this soup, but it turned out tasteless. I used super fresh corn, which is delicious on its own, but it seems to have lost all of its flavor in there. :/

Laura Wright12/09/2013 - 8:23 am

Hey Kimiko, I’m so sorry this didn’t work out for you! Especially because your corn was super fresh. I found that this soup needed a heavy hand with the salt because the millet and potatoes really absorbed a lot of it. This could be a part of the issue. Also, my chives from our garden are more similar to green onions, so that could have accounted for more flavour. I’m going to add a few notes to this recipe to hopefully help others out. Thanks so much for your feedback!
-L

Emily14/09/2013 - 9:23 pm

Thanks for this beautiful recipe, Laura! I also found it a bit thick, and I read the comments about the salt, so I added an additional cup of liquid — veggie broth — and also tossed in a Parmesean rind. Perfecto! I’ve always hated corn chowder because it’s usually rich and heavy on the milk. This was divine. :)

Laura Wright16/09/2013 - 1:49 pm

So glad you had success Emily! I’m going to add a note on the liquid content. I SO appreciate that feedback :)
-L

dalyn18/09/2013 - 6:38 am

I made this last night with corn, potatoes, and radish greens picked right from the yard, and, like other commenters, found that it was a bit on the bland side. I added plenty of salt and it still didn’t help. What did help, however, was the addition of some jalapeno brine that I had left over from canning candied jalapeños. So, maybe a bit of sugar and more heat? Anyway, it turned out terrific with some tweaks but I thought you’d want to know…

Weekly Wants04/01/2014 - 7:01 am

[…] This Creamy Millet Corn Chowder with Greens. The super delicious and comforting-looking vegan soup makes me crave summer fresh corn. Looks like I’ll just have to buy a bag of frozen in the meantime! […]

Cecilia27/01/2014 - 7:34 am

I am making this for dinner tomorrow!

Dawn27/03/2014 - 12:33 pm

I made this tonight and it was fab! I used sweet potatoes instead as I don’t use the white ones and I made it using veggie stock. Skipped the chilli because of the kids but my husband I drizzled ours with chilli olive oil. Came out beautiful, so tasty!

Brian05/04/2014 - 7:54 pm

Beautiful soup. I used some lime juice to up the acid level just a bit and topped with fresh tomatoes. Will definitely make again.

[…] Recipe and Photo credit to thefirstmess.com […]

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