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As the weather turns inexorably cooler and wetter, I begin to crave soup. Later in the year, this will mean heavier soups made primarily from pantry staples, but fortunately, in the transition between summer and true autumn there’s a merciful period during which there is still a good variety of end-of-summer produce, like the wonderful fresh limas I got from the farmer’s market yesterday. I was originally planning on using them for a salad, but as it was a horrible rainy day, I threw together this pretty chowder on a whim instead.

It’s a satisfying blend of fresh and rich, with the sweetness of the corn and the bite of the chile flakes and black pepper cutting through the creaminess of the broth, and the potatoes and limas providing a smooth and substantial mouthfeel. It’s also a snap to put together, but tastes like you went to a considerable amount of trouble.

Lima Bean and Corn Chowder
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons each butter and olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 orange (or red) pepper, diced
6 cups vegetable stock
4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 dry quart fresh lima beans
16 oz frozen corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream

Heat butter and oil in a heavy pot. Add chile flakes, onions, celery and pepper and sweat until softened. Add stock, potatoes, lima beans, corn and seasonings.

Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until potatoes and lima beans are tender, approximately 20 minutes.

Take off heat and stir in as much cream as desired. Taste and correct salt and pepper, if necessary.

Notes: You could use frozen limas if fresh aren’t available, which would make it a great dinner option in the middle of winter, when your vegetable drawer is pathetically bare.

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