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Fresh Shaker Corn Chowder


Adapted from the manuscript recipes of the Shaker Sisters, this rich and beautiful soup is truly a simple gift to serve and give thanks for. Use the freshest and tenderest corn you can find. Serve hot to 4 as a first course. And just imagine the summer heat of the kitchen of these members of the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing. Back in the middle of the 19th century, when these celibate, dancing Believers stretched from New England to Ohio and Kentucky, the Sisters kept huge iron soup kettles tidily hung on brackets over the fireplace, where they simmered all through the day. Great love and thanks to Nancy Solley, who took me to the Shaker Community at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, and treated me to my first bowl of Shaker Corn Chowder.

Shuck and desilk the corn. Cut the kernels of each thinly with a sharp knife into a bowl, then, with the flat of the blade, press out all the remaining milk of the cob into the same bowl. Set aside.

Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan, scrape in the pepper, and saute over medium high heat until the pepper is soft. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for several minutes. Gradually stir in the milk/stock combination and bring to a boil. Pop in the clove studded onion. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the corn mixture; stir in the cream and sugar; season to taste. Return to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for about 30 minutes.

When ready to serve, remove the cloved onion, stir in the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter, ladle into bowls, and serve immediately.