Typically, I feel that soups, chowders, and chilis are more suited for winter. It warms you up and can warm the kitchen with being cooked for long. This one, however, is a summertime soup. Mainly because it utilizes one of summers many fresh vegetables that come around….
Yep, this corn chowder was meant to have in the summertime because you’ll be using 8 ears of fresh corn. But not just the kernels. There’s a little more work to this, but it’s all for good reason.
Once you remove the kernels from each ear, you’ll be getting basically all of the juice and pulp out of each ear. You take the back of a butter knife and while holding the ear up on end, scrape down the ear. You’ll be able to see where you’re getting the rest of the goodness off the ear. I like doing this in a large bowl to give me plenty of room the hold the cob and work without making a huge mess.
The aim of this extra step is to end up with just the juice. We’ll be using that as a sort of finishing sauce to the chowder.
When you do this, you can either lay a kitchen towel in the bowl your scraping into, or scrap everything into a bowl then transfer to a kitchen towel and immediately pick it up.
Regardless of how you get there, you’ll be using that kitchen towel like cheesecloth. You squeeze the dickens out of it and separate all of that milky yellow juice from the pulp.
Having this extra little step really adds a fresh corn flavor to this chowder, and keeps it from getting lost amidst the other flavors that are present.
I love that there are potatoes in this chowder. Then again I just love potatoes in soup, but they pair perfectly with the corn and the…..BACON.
Yeah I said it…BACON.
Chopping up some bacon and rendering it down to crispy little bits and using the fat to start out your soup has to be one of my favorite ways to start a dish. It just sets the mood.
It’s almost like hearing one of your favorite songs at the beginning of a movie. You know you’re in for a treat. Do you know that feeling?
Another thing I really like about this fresh corn chowder, is its minimal use of dairy. The original recipe called for half and half. That was a little sweet for me, especially with the corn. I cut the amount of half and half down, switched it for milk (whatever % you have on hand) and added a little butter for some richness.
The mastermind behind the creaminess is the two cups of the chowder that you blend. Again, this is another technique I really love. By taking part of the soup out, blending it, the adding it back in not only thickens the soup, but seems to multiply the flavor exponentially.
Useful Equipment Alert!
I used my beast of a dutch oven for this dish. It’s an enameled lodge cast iron and I LOVE IT. I’ve never used another enameled cookware, but I can’t imagine that they get much better than this. Check it out here at Amazon and read the reviews for yourself: Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. My wife and I got ours as a wedding gift in 2013 and have used it probably 5-10 times a month since then. The enamel has stained a little, but nothing else is wrong with it. It’s seriously the bees knees. Or cats pajamas. Really. Check it out.
This is my rendition of corn chowder, but I drew inspiration from The America’s Test Kitchen cookbook. I know, I know I’m a fan boy. Why wouldn’t I be though, they literally test each recipe until they come up with the best version. Sometimes, there’s extra work that’s worth it. Most of the time, I end up using their recipes more as a structural guideline and make the recipe to better fit my family and my needs.
I know I harp on this a lot, but I’m a through and through believer of being creative in the kitchen. Of not adhering strictly to recipes. But reading them. Finding what you like or don’t like about them. Changing what you don’t like and using what you do like to help you create other new dishes with the techniques, flavors, or ingredients that you’ve found.
Please enjoy this recipe. I know it’s brought lots of smiles, slurps and burps to my soup loving family and I. I hope it does for you and yours too.
Find the recipe I drew inspiration from here: America’s Test Kitchen’s “Lighter Corn Chowder”
- 8 ears of corn, shucked
- 7 tbsp butter, divided
- 1 medium onion, chopped fine
- 4 slices of bacon, diced into small pieces
- 3 tsp of thyme/rosemary or other favorite aromatic
- 1/4 cup flour
- 5 cups water (substitute some for chicken broth to jazz it up)
- 4 medium sized potatoes, cubed
- 3-4 cup milk
- salt, pepper, and sugar
- Cut all of the kernels of corn off the cobs. In a separate bowl, use the back of a butter knife to firmly scrape the cobs of the pulp and juice that is left. Now, transfer the pulp and juice to another bowl lined with a clean kitchen/tea towel. Using the towel like cheese cloth, draw it up tightly and squeeze all of the liquid from the mixture. Discard the remaining pulp.
- Melt 3 tbsp of butter in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onion, bacon, aromatic herb of choice, 2 tsp of salt and 1 of pepper. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until the onions begin to brown and the bacon renders.
- Stir in the flour and cook for another 2 minutes while stirring constantly. Whisk in the water slowly until incorporated and bring to a boil.
- Add in the potatoes and corn kernels. Once boiling again, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or so, or until potatoes have cooked through.
- Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter. Once the potatoes have cooked, puree two cups of the chowder in a blender and return back to the pot, along with the milk and butter you just melted.
- Return to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, stir in the corn juice. Season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar. Serve with fresh chives.