Tarragon Corn Chowder

4 ears corn, in the husk (resulting in about 3 cups corn kernels)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup chopped white or yellow onion
1 cup chopped fennel bulb
2 minced garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
4 small waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup white wine
1-2 Tbsp fresh chopped tarragon

Prep the onions, fennel and potatoes while you are cooking the corn or making the corn broth.

If you are starting with fresh corn-on-the-cob (versus frozen), you can either cook the corn first, or not. We grill the corn first to get the extra flavor from the corn. You can make this soup with leftover whole cooked corn, or you can use raw corn corn on the cob. To grill, keep the corn-on-the-cobs in their husks, and grill them directly over high heat until the outer husks are nicely charred, about 10-15 minutes. Then remove from the grill, let cool a little, then remove the husks and silk.

Cut the corn kernels away from the cobs. (See our tip for removing corn from the cob using a bundt pan to stabilize the cobs.) Set aside the corn kernels. Do not discard the cobs.

Break the corn cobs in half, and put them in a pot with 6 cups water and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. If you skip this step, use a quart of vegetable or chicken stock, plus 2 cups water in place of the corn broth in 5.

Heat the butter in a Dutch oven or large, thick-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and fennel and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.

Add the white wine and boil it down by half. While the wine is boiling, remove the corn cobs from the corn broth and discard. Add the potatoes to the pot with the onions and fennel, then pour in the corn broth, along with the bay leaves. Stir well and add salt to taste (you’ll need to add more salt than you expect, as the corn broth is unsalted). Simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. If you are using raw corn on the cob or frozen corn, you’ll want to add the corn to the soup about halfway into the cooking. If you are using grilled or cooked corn, add at the end of cooking and heat for a few minutes.

To finish, add the fresh chopped tarragon to the pot.
Yield: Serves 6-8