Sweet, crunchy and slightly rich. It’s summer corn time. And when added to this chowder, those flavors are only further enhanced – and not drowned out with cream. With some smart techniques, there’s no need for such embellishments or reason to consider corn chowder anything but healthy.

Summer Corn Chowder

Ingredients

  • Kernels from 6 ears of fresh corn, cobs reserved
  • 3 tablespoons butter or oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small bunch of chives or scallions, or 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (only if your corn isn’t sweet)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small bunch of thyme, tied together with string
  • 2 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 quart milk, half-and-half or nondairy milk
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 lb bacon, chopped (optional – cook in pot before step 2 until crispy, then remove and use to garnish)

Instructions

  1. Cover the reserved cobs with water in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes as you prep the rest of your ingredients. When done, discard cobs and pour the broth into a large bowl.
  2. In the same pot, heat the oil or butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, chives, sugar and thyme. Stir and cook for a minute.
  3. Pour the broth back into the pot with the chopped potatoes and 1/2 of the corn kernels. Generously season with salt, cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. (Optional) Use an immersion blender to blend the soup just slightly to thicken. Or, transfer a portion of the soup to a traditional blender if desired.
  5. Add in the remaining corn kernels, the tomato and the milk. Simmer another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  6. Ladle into bowls, top with the bacon, if using, and a sprig of thyme.

You start by slicing the corn kernels off your cobs. Simplify the process by using the setup pictured here. More details on that in a previous post.

Then, take those de-kerneled cobs, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes to remove their hidden flavor – perhaps as you prep the rest of your ingredients. Though this can always be done ahead of time.

Meanwhile, chop some onions. You can use an onion, or as many of the recipes I’ve given out lately include, chives, for a milder flavor.

Tie a small bunch of thyme together with kitchen string. I really love the flavors of thyme and corn paired together. Don’t have time? Try another woody herb. Rosemary or oregano could work. I don’t recommend dried thyme, however. I just don’t care for the flavor. We’re tying it together because we’re going to remove it after simmering the soup.

Chop your potatoes. Larger pieces will take longer to cook, but result in more texture, whereas small pieces may break down into the chowder after cooking.

Now heat a pot over medium high heat – if your cobs have finished simmering you can strain the broth, set it aside, discard the cobs and use the same pot. Then add the onion/chives, thyme and chopped garlic. Salt and cook for a couple of minutes before adding in the potatoes, half of the corn kernels and the corn broth.

Bring it to a boil and let simmer for a good 20 minutes or so. You don’t want a heavy boil, but just so it’s gently bubbling. Afterwards, taste, add more salt if needed and continue simmering if the potatoes aren’t cooked.

Now for the fun part

 Then add in some chopped tomatoes and the milk. Tomatoes are completely untraditional here, but I like them anyway. I’ve also enjoyed it will some zucchini as well. Whatever grade of milk you prefer will work – though skim will make it less creamy. I’ve found that soy milk adds a surprisingly rich flavor without the calories and fat of cream. Add a splash of olive oil or a couple tablespoons of butter if you find it lacking.

Ladle into bowls and top with fresh green herbs like parsley or basil. Or, if you prefer to use bacon in your chowder, as many do – cooked in the pot before the onion – you could add that crumbled bacon to the top of each bowl. Enjoy.