Executive chef Guy Sockrider makes the chowder with about three times as much whipping cream as broth. This somewhat less indulgent version is still very smooth and creamy; in fact, it's quite velvety even if you reduce the cream to only 1 cup and add 1 more cup chicken broth. Garnish bowls with chive spears, if desired, and edible flowers such as blue rosemary blossoms or golden calendula peels.
Sunset JULY 1999
1. Husk the corn and discard the silk. Rinse corn. In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, brown 2 ears, turning as needed to toast all sides, until kernels are speckled dark brown, about 10 minutes. Let corn cool. Rinse out pan.
2. With a sharp knife or corn cutter, cut the toasted corn from the cobs; set aside 1/2 cup of the kernels. Also cut corn from remaining cobs.
3. Return pan to high heat; add butter, celery, onion, thyme, and garlic. Stir often until vegetables are slightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Add all of the corn except for the reserved 1/2 cup toasted kernels. Also add potato, broth, and cream. Stir to mix, then bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are easy to mash, about 20 minutes.
5. In a blender, whirl the cooked mixture, a portion at a time, until smoothly puréed. Rub the purée through a fine strainer back into the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often.
6. Ladle the soup into bowls and top equally with the reserved browned corn kernels.
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