This past month, for our 37th (!) anniversary, my husband and I went out to dinner. Where we live, there are few nearby choices (although plenty if we want to fight traffic for an hour or more), and this place is one of the few that is both close and serves good food.
The first-course special of the evening was Lobster and Corn Chowder. I though the combination of local lobster and fresh corn was brilliant, although I had my reservations about the "chowder" part, because most often that means a soup heavy with potatoes and cream. But we took the plunge anyway, and were not disappointed by the very tasty soup that appeared before us. As predicted, the sweetness of the lobster and the corn made them the perfect pairing, with a little edge contributed by grilling the corn first.
I wanted to recreate it at home. Simple, right? Except when I started looking for a recipe, I came up blank. Nothing on Epicurious. Nothing in my large and eclectic selection of cookbooks (oh, no, Julia has failed me!). So I was stuck with improvising.
It wasn't hard. The basics are simple: boil a lobster (please don't make me explain how to terminate the poor creature—just honor it by enjoying the soup), remove the meat and chill, covered, until you need it. Since there were only two of us eating this, I used one one and a quarter pound lobster and one ear of corn. You can easily increase the amounts, and increase the stock (below) proportionately.
Make a hearty fish/lobster stock:
Lobster carcasses and shells
1 quart water
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
Place the lobster carcasses (minus meat) in a large pot and add the water (it should cover the lobster bits). Add the wine, onions, carrot, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns, and let simmer, uncovered, and reduce for about an hour. (Keep the lobster shells covered with liquid.)
Season with a bit of salt and taste. If the flavor seems light, simmer for another 10-20 minutes. Strain (if you're not going to use it immediately, cover it after it has cooled and keep refrigerated, no more than three days; you may also freeze it). Makes about two cups.
When you are ready to make the soup:
Husk the corn and remove as much silk as you can. Grill it briefly so that some of the kernels are a bit charred. When cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cobs. You should have about one cup (for two servings).
Now comes the fun part. Place your stock in a clean pan and bring to a simmer. Taste! Stir in 2 Tblsp unsalted butter and 3/4 cup heavy cream. Add some paprika (sweet) and a dash of any herbs or spices that strike your fancy (I used turmeric, for a bit of an earthy taste; you could also add a pinch of cayenne if you want some bite). Taste again. Add some more sea salt and freshly ground pepper if you like.
When you're happy with the flavor, you can plate your soup:
In a wide shallow bowl, scatter the corn kernels. Take your lobster meat (at room temperature) and make a nice nest of it in the middle of the bowl, so that some rises above the surface. Ladle the soup around the lobster island.
And enjoy! We found this goes well with a crispy flatbread toasted with some Parmesan cheese—it's a nice contrast.
Note: this is a relatively thin soup, nice for a summer meal. If you want to thicken it, you can mix some cornstarch in water, then add to the strained soup, stirring well. Simmer for a few minutes until the mixture thickens.