Summer is the time in Michigan when us Michiganders are especially proud of what our state has to offer. Not that we’re not otherwise a proud group of folks (just ask a Detroiter what they thought of the Eminem/Chrysler Super Bowl ad last year), but during the summer, it’s perhaps even easier for anyone not from around here to see why. I would list my favorite Michigan things, but that would be a bit lengthy of a tangent (I could devote a whole blog post to Michigan’s amazing lakes and sand dunes alone).
I will say that since moving back to Michigan, I’ve rediscovered why Detroit’s Eastern Market is one of my favorite iconic Detroit destinations. I went there as a kid with my parents, and I attribute many of my good food habits today to the fact that my parents instilled in me from a young age that the best meals are often created from fresh, local farmers market foods.
A recent development at the market has been the rise of Detroit Urban farming. One might not think of Detroit and immediate think “right, vegetable gardens…” but that’s exactly what’s going on in more than a few vacant lots in this city. The salad below is made almost entirely from greens, sprouts and herbs that were grown in the city of Detroit. Pretty amazing, huh?
This chowder represents a broader portrait of Michigan produce. Still, nearly all of the vegetables were fresh from the Farmer’s Market. Michigan-grown corn, potatoes, bell peppers and poblanos provided the base for this creation. The corn, especially, benefits from being so fresh in this dish. I’m convinced this dish would not be the same with frozen or canned corn (though that’s not to say it’s not worth a try when corn is no longer in season).
This dish is also notable for the absence of heavy, fattening ingredients (with the exception of a teaspoon of Earth Balance). It’s amazing how creamy the broth can get without any cream.
Summer Corn and Potato Chowder:
2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
1 red, green or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium-sized red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Earth Balance buttery spread
4 cups red or yellow-skinned potatoes, diced (about 4 medium potatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon brown rice flour*
3 cups packed fresh corn kernels (equal to about 5-6 ears of corn)
2 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1. To a large soup pot or Dutch Oven, add peppers, onion, garlic, potato, Earth Balance and salt. Turn heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until Earth Balance is melted and vegetables release their juices and begin to soften slightly, about 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk or stir together brown rice flour and water until it is dissolved into the water. Then add to vegetables (it will not cover all of the vegetables; this is o.k.). Bring water to a boil.
2. Once water is boiling, add the remaining ingredients. Stir together. Partially cover and bring soup to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer on low, partially covered, for approximately 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes are soft and desired thickness is reached. You may add a bit more salt to taste, if desired (fore reference purposes: I have never had to add more).
* If you’re not gluten-free/gluten-intolerant, any type of regular all-purpose flour will do.