Friday, August 20, 2010

Herbed Corn Chowder

Summer brings to mind a lot of things: green grass, summer vacations, warm weather - or in the case of this summer, HOT, HUMID weather - and corn.  Maybe it's just that I spent most of my teenage years growing up in the mid-west, but summer sweet corn holds a special place in my heart.  (I have a very different mindset on all that corn syrup masquerading as a filler in so many of our commercial foods, but that's another story.)

 So, what to do with all that sweet corn?  It's absolutely phenomenal cooked right on the ear, brushed with butter, and sprinkled with a little S&P (I like to wrap mine in foil and roast it until tender).  But after a few dozen ears, it's nice to do something different.  That's where this herb-flecked corn chowder comes into play.  It's my adaptation of several recipes I've seen over the years, and it's deliciously simple - it can easily be on the table in less than 1/2 hour if you've already cooked up a few ears of corn.  Or, if you'd like to really speed up the process, you can use frozen corn - the recipe will still taste great.

The choice of herbs are up to you - the anise-like flavor of tarragon would be a nice counterpoint to the super-sweetness of the corn, or basil would offer an italian flair on the dish.  I chose a little bit of fresh thyme to brighten up the chowder mixed with a hefty helping of scallions... I love scallions.  The sweet corn and herby goodness is brought together with crumbled bacon (I used Vermont Smoke & Cure bacon) and a little heavy cream, but all in all, this is a fairly waist-friendly offering.  I tend to make BIG batches of soup, but this recipe is an exception.  I'd say it feeds four people if served with a salad or light entree, or two hungry people if it's served as a main dish.


Corn Chowder
Click here for printable recipe

2 slices of thick-cut bacon
1 c. scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
1/2 c. celery, finely diced
1 T. fresh thyme
3 cups of corn, divided (6 ears or so, cooked until the kernels are tender-crisp)
3 c. milk
1/3 c. heavy cream (can be omitted for a lighter recipe)
1/2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
S&P

Over medium heat, cook 2 slices of thick cut bacon until crisp.  Set aside on a plate lined with a paper towel; once cooled, crumble it into small pieces.  Take 2 t. of the bacon drippings and add it to a medium sized pot, over medium-low heat.  Add the celery, scallions, and thyme and cook until celery is translucent and mixture is fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add 2 cups of the corn and 2 cups of milk; and puree using an immersion/stick blender until fairly smooth (this can be done in a stand blender if you do not have an immersion blender, but be very careful not to splatter hot soup!). Once it is blended, add the remaining 1 cup of milk.  If you are using an immersion blender, you can blend slightly to get a more smooth consistency if you wish.

Add remaining 1 cup of corn, and continue to heat over medium-low setting until steaming.  Turn heat to low, add heavy cream and cheddar cheese; stir well to let the cheese incorporate.  Add salt & pepper to taste.

Bacon can either be stirred into the soup, or served separately to be used as a garnish.  Garnish also with scallions, if desired.  Serve immediately.

3 comments:

  1. This looks so yummy, although I'd unfortunately have to pass on the bacon since I'm a vegetarian. I'm a midwestern girl myself, so I understand your summer sweet corn love!

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  2. Kelci, I'm excited to try this. Would you like to come and visit? I'll buy the food if you will cook!!

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  3. Thanks Kitchenstance!! I'd thought about trying a version with roasted poblano peppers and smoked paprika instead of the bacon... If I make it, I'll be sure to post the results!

    Mamma Mimi :) Of course I'd like to come visit! I've actually been thinking about planning a trip down here soon.

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