Corn Chowder and Summer Flavors

Corn ChowderCorn chowder is a hearty soup. It’s a perfect match for the late summer corn harvest—a whiff of autumn in the air and sometimes a hint of chill.

Chowder is an American term with French origins—chaudière is a sort of iron cooking pot.

As for corn, the shorter the time from garden to table, the better the corn eating.

The corn harvest and the summer tomato and sweet pepper harvest are synonymous so tomatoes and bell peppers are natural garnishes for a corn chowder supper. Or you can simply make a plain corn chowder lunch.

To cut kernels from fresh picked corn: hold the husked ear upright with the stem end down in a deep, wide bowl. With a sharp paring knife, cut down the length of the cob in a strip, cutting just deep enough to slice kernels away from the cob. Rotate the ear to shear off all the kernels.

This recipe will make 6 servings of chowder.

Ingredients for Corn Chowder

  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, chopped or 3 scallions white bulb and 3 inches of green cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound baking potatoes such as Yukon Gold (3 medium potatoes), peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 6 cups chicken stock or canned broth
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
  • 1 cup half-and-half or ¼ to ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
  • Meaty option: 4 cups shredded cooked chicken (from 2½ pound roasted hen)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Add-ons for summer flavor

  • 2 ripe medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and chopped
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges

Directions to Make Corn Chowder

1. Wilt bacon in a large, heavy pot over medium heat until fat renders and meat starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and allow it to melt

2. Add onion or scallions, reduce heat to low and cook until soft about 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and cook, stirring, another 3 to 5 minutes or so until the flour begins to smell cooked –a whiff of baked pie crust–but hasn’t started to brown.

3. Add chicken stock and potatoes. Cook over medium-low heat, simmering until the potatoes are just tender, about 12 minutes.

4. Add the half-and-half, corn, pepper, salt and cook 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If you are adding roasted chicken to the soup, do so now so that it can heat through.)

Serve immediately in soup bowls.

For fresh summer flavor, garnish with your choice of bell peppers, tomatoes, green onions, avocado, cilantro, and a squirt or two of lime juice and freshly ground pepper to taste.