Corn, I ate it, it happened, go ahead and gasp. I’m not going to be a hypocrite or a lier and tell you that I don’t eat corn, that I don’t like corn. The reality is that corn chowder could very well…scratch that, it is my favorite soup ever. Although corn is one of the top three processed grains, we need to understand that there is a difference between the processed corn grains (field corn) and sweet corn.
Corn has found its place as a staple within the modern American diet. Unfortunately this is through the form of processed corn such as chips, flour, corn syrup and oils, not sweet corn. This form in its entirety could be talked down upon in the nutritional community. It lacks, nutrients, is full of nasty chemicals like herbicides and pesticides and is most likely genetically modified. I am hear to note that this is not the form of corn I promote and it is definitely not the form that you will be finding in the recipes I present on this platform (not that I don’t enjoy a tortilla chip every now and then. We’re all human.).
The truth is sweet corn is a vegetable. ->GASP<- There are a lot of myths circulating about sweet corn, similar to that of the white potato and the good ol’ but harshly scrutinized egg yolk. They all have their place in the diet and when you get into the nitty-gritty of nutrition you will find that sweet corn is definitely a vegetable and it actually contains quite a few nutrients, not to mention the fiber content. So where did we get the idea that corn isn’t the best choice? That would be from the sugar or carbohydrate content of sweet corn (1).
Sure sweet corn is higher on the carb index than spinach or kale. But the reality is that an ear of corn has less than a quarter the amount of sugar and half the amount of carbohydrates than in a banana (2, 3). But how often do we hear of a banana getting a bad rap? Corn, in fact, is full of healthy antioxidants, a few minerals such as manganese, B vitamins and lots of fiber (4).
Can we talk about the fiber content for a minute. Corn is packed full of fiber both soluble and insoluble. The insoluble fiber is how the rumor got started that our bodies can’t break down corn. There is some truth to this statement. Corn contains a hefty dose of insoluble fiber and no our bodies can’t break down insoluble fiber, hence why you can see the corn the next day come out of you. ->GRAPHIC<- But that insoluble fiber is not a bad thing, it actually is quite beneficial for our body. Insoluble fiber is indigestible. It runs through our systems cleaning up our GI tract, keeping our bowels running like a well oiled engine. It keeps you clean and regular, something many of us could benefit from (5).
On top of that there is a lot of promising research around insoluble fiber or those carbohydrates that are indigestible. Research has shown that insoluble fiber helps to feed the “good bacteria” in our gut which then allows us to make more vitamin B (which enhances our mood) as well as synthesize vitamin K allowing us to better absorb vitamin D (6, 7). And a good dose of vitamin D has been found to help reduce our risk of about every disease known to man (8). You see where this is going? We’ll get to resistant starch in a later post but for now know that corn and the insoluble fiber, or the fiber that makes it seem like you aren’t breaking it down is actually having a huge benefit in your body.
Plus if you are worried about GMO’s I’m here to tell you that it is rare to find sweet corn that has been genetically modified. In fact the grassroots organization, Friends of the Earth, tested 71 samples of sweet corn (fresh, frozen and canned) from eight areas around the U.S. to find that only 2.4 percent of the samples have been genetically modified (9). That is a far cry from over 90% of field corn that goes into the making of those tortilla chips you (and I) munch on.
If you would rather be safe than sorry, buy organic. Organic foods are prohibited from being genetically engineered so you will be safe if you buy organic frozen corn at your local super market. Fortunately we had frozen our fair share of homegrown corn this summer when it was in season. It is always a treat to pull out the bags of naturally sweetened corn to freshen up a winter dish.
The better news, this soup is made dairy-free and thickened solely by this vegetable. Just puree some corn with a little liquid until a thick cream forms and add it to your soup. A second dose of vegetables minus the thickener.
Now I’m not here promoting corn as a super food. I’m definitely not telling you to eat it as a staple. But I do want to remind you that corn, in fact is a vegetable, it does contain nutrients and it grows from the earth. Untainted corn definitely should have a place in our diets to be used in the occasion that you want a good corn chowder, in summer or winter. Plus, I still drool over this corn salad but that will have to wait until it is in season and I can cut it straight from the cob. MMMMMmmmmm.
Listen to your body, if you don’t react well to corn, don’t eat it. But certainly don’t dismiss it because of all the hype circulating around the negatives about corn. Remember, not all corn is the same. Choose quality over quantity. Know what you believe about the food you put in your body and stand by that.
Let’s get to the star of this post, the chowder. Thick, creamy, hearty deliciousness that will warm you on the coldest winter day. The sweetness of the corn with the saltines of the protein can I scream. IT IS EVERYTHING YOU EVER DREAMED OF IN THAT BOWL! Okay, that was a bit too much. Seriously, you have to, you must. I’m at a loss for words.
Now go make this stinkin’ good chowder for supper and please stop fretting over the fact that you are about to devour a heaping bowl full of
corn goodness. Plus, there’s spinach so you can sleep easy at tonight.
You can’t take the corn out of an Iowa girl.
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil of coconut oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2-3 cups spinach, chopped
- 16 oz sliced button mushrooms
- 5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 pkg Smokey Burboun sausage (other nitrate0-free sausage)
- ½ lb canadian bacon or other thick-cut ham
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp smokey paprika
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 2 packages corn, separated
- ½ cup water of additional chicken broth (more if needed)
- salt & pepper, to taste
- In a dutch oven or stock pot, heat oil.
- Add onion, celery and garlic. Cook until softened and fragrant.
- Add in chopped spinach, mushrooms and potatoes.
- Continue cooking until spinach just begins to wilt and mushrooms begin to soften.
- Add in sausage, canadian bacon, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, parsley, salt & pepper. Mix well.
- Add in chicken broth and one package of corn.
- Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are fork tender.
- Meanwhile, add 1 package of corn and additional broth or water to food processor or blender and puree until smooth, adding additional liquid if needed to keep the processor running.
- Add pureed corn to the soup mixture and stir.
- Continue simmering an additional 5-10 minutes.
- Serve garnished with green onions, bacon or crispy pancetta.