Chowders, a sort of hybrid between stew and purée, often feature seafood, starch and copious amounts of cream, a cozy bowl of warmth during wet, cold winters. But despite our famously foggy summers here in San Francisco, slurping through a rich New England-style fish chowder strikes me as heavy and leaden and just too much, no matter how damp the days might be. The perfect compromise between sunny summer produce and less-than-summery weather? You’re looking at it: corn chowder.
It’s warm, for one thing, with the bright summer flavor of farm stand corn. And with bits of bacon and an underlying creaminess from half-and-half, it’s satisfying without the sluggishness, a soup that calls for a side of perky sliced tomatoes or a BLT. Use canned corn for a smooth purée (it’ll break down far better than fresh or frozen) and fresh kernels for full, end-of-summer corn flavor.
adapted from the Best of America’s Test Kitchen, 2010; serves about 8 and halves easily
- 6 ears of sweet corn, shucked
- 2 (15 oz) cans whole kernel corn, drained
- 4 C (32 oz) chicken broth
- 3 slices bacon, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 lb red potatoes (about 3), scrubbed and cut into 1/2″ cubes
- 1 C half-and-half or cream
- 2 Tbsp chives, minced
- salt and pepper
Cut the bottoms off each corncob to create a flat surface. Place perpendicular to your worksurface; run your knife down each side of the cob to remove the kernels. Discard the cobs. In a blender (or in batches in a food processor), purée the canned corn with 2 C of broth until smooth.
In a dutch oven over medium heat, crisp the bacon, about 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve. Cook the onion, fresh corn kernels, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper in the bacon grease until they soften, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the potatoes, corn purée, 2 C broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the half-and-half, chives and bacon. Taste and correct the salt and pepper, if needed. Serve warm.
Note: the chowder can be refrigerated, in an airtight container, for about three days. I found teeny little tri-color potatoes that I sliced in half for this recipe.