Piment D’Espelette Chili Roasted Potato & Corn Soup

At the Wednesday farmers’ market cooking demo  I had a lot of questions about “chowder”. I consider a chowder to be a very thick soup that normally has fish added to it. So technically I made “soup” yesterday at the market, despite its thick texture. When I make this at home I add leftover shrimp, scallops or sheepshead fish that I have pan sautéed in a mix of olive oil and butter until golden brown and crusted slightly.

The chili pepper spice I use in this recipe is Paprika pepper: Piment D’Espelette. It is smoky and a bit sweet, without a tremendous amount of heat which is why it can replace black pepper in many dishes. This pepper plant originates in Mexico & South America. Around the 16th century the French started cultivating it for medicinal purposes and it is now grown throughout the Basque Region and imported. The pepper is picked right about now and it dries through the month of October. I’m sure you could change out this spice for a variety of other mild to medium heat dried chili peppers. If you wanted to use a local pepper, I found one local farm growing this last year: Wild Onion Farm. We dried some and froze some lightly cooked in olive oil. Both worked really well in recipes until I ran out mid winter.  And then I  just happened to get a sample of the spice and grey salt mix from Savory Spice Shop early last year and enjoyed the way it worked in this recipe if you can’t find it locally.

The other change that I made at the market was to use a food mill instead of a food processor. It’s a lot lighter and easier to deal with a mill at a market since it only requires your arm to operate and not an extension cord and the possibility of dropping it while packing and unpacking supplies. However the texture the food processor provides is more creamy as the fast spinning blade cuts through the potato skins better than the food mill which separates them from potato.

The mill’s generally purpose is to skin vegetables and fruits for you. In this recipe, I really like the nutrition and flavor the skins on the baby potatoes add, so I prefer the food processor. I like the base texture to be smooth (food processor is fast for this) and then I throw in part of the roasted potatoes, corn and the fish at the end for the texture. Or you can process all of the potatoes and corn and just float the fish in the center with a garnish of fresh parsley or chives.

One other major note for this recipe. As many of you already know, I freeze a lot of vegetables as they come in from the field. For this recipe, it is possible to cook both the  potatoes and corn and freeze them until you need them for the recipe. If you maintain a ready supply of  stock, you are already on your way to making this meal in under thirty minutes once everything has thawed. That is the way we work with almost 90% of our food purchases from local vendors throughout the year. It’s a lot of planning and additional freezer space is required, but you can produce an excellent home-cooked meal where you control the spices, preservatives, sodium and food quality in no time at all.

If you have kids in college,  send them back to school with some of this soup in a care package!


Photo coming after the rain!


Piment D’Espelette Chili Roasted Potato & Corn Soup



  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place chopped potatoes on the baking sheet. Lightly coat the potatoes with olive oil, grey salt & 1 teaspoon of the chili powder.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 425F for 30 minutes. They should be tender and cooked through. Alternately you can cook these in a wide casserole dish on the top of the stove if you watch them and stir so as not to burn. Remove and chill right away if you are not going to make the soup immediately.
  • Heat a large Dutch Oven and add about 1 teaspoon of olive oil once it’s warm.
  • If you haven’t roasted onions and need to saute them, this is the time to cook them slowly for about 15 minutes before moving on to the corn.
  • Add the fresh-cut corn and lightly saute for 5 minutes or less. You can cook this as much or as little as you would like but the sweeter and fresher the corn, the less time it should spend in the pan.
  • If you are working with raw garlic, this is the time to lightly cook the garlic on low for a couple of minutes (very light golden but not browned).
  • Add the broth, cooked potatoes, garlic, onion, liquid tamarind paste concentrate to the corn and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Process the soup in a food processor until it is fairly smooth (2-4 minutes).  You can add additional broth, whole milk or cream if you find it becoming to thick or it isn’t getting smooth enough (which is an indicator that there isn’t enough liquid to be absorbed by the potatoes when processing).
  • Re-heat the soup gently and adjust the piment chili powder, Himalayan salt and pepper to your taste. The chili pepper will get a little hotter as it sits and if you want to add some additional heat, a pinch of cayenne is a good companion pepper.
  • If you have fresh peppers from the farm, lightly saute a few and top the soup with those or some that you have dehydrated and crushed.
  • The recipe easily feeds 6 people with the addition of fish.


  • Fresh cut chives added after the soup is finished cooking as either a garnish or an ingredient work well.
  • If you choose to freeze this soup, do not add the dairy or fish until after you thaw the soup.


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