Every summer I look forward to fresh locally grown produce, and among my faves are tomatoes of every variety (especially heirlooms), and sweet corn on the cob. In this area of the country, we can get really good corn starting around the July 4 holiday through most of September.
For this recipe, don’t even think about substituting frozen kernels because the flavor of this Spicy Corn Chowder depends on freshly cut kernels. The creamy soup has just the right amount of heat from the chipotle chili powder that compliments the sweetness of the corn. And for even more corn taste, “milk” the cobs and add it to the chowder when you mix in the kernels.
Mother Nature decided to pull a fast one on me right in the middle of making this recipe. Just as I was adding the corn kernels, a powerful storm moved in and knocked out our electricity. Even though it was dark as night in the middle of the afternoon, I was luckily able to continue the process with the aid of a flashlight and a few candles on my gas stove top.
For a quick cooking chowder, it is jam-packed full of flavor! Yes, corn is KING in the summertime!
Spicy Corn Chowder
- 1/2 lb. thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon (6 slices), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme
- 5 cups fresh corn kernels (from 10 medium cobs)
- 1/2 tsp. pure chipotle chile powder
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
- 1 large russet potato, peeled and coarsely grated
- Kosher salt
- Crumbled queso fresco or grated Monterey Jack cheese, for garnish (optional)
- Cook the bacon in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium-high heat until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate.
- Return the Dutch oven to medium-high heat and add the onion, half of the scallions, the celery, bell pepper, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the corn (and corn milk if using) and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the chipotle powder and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the half-and-half and chicken broth and bring to a boil.
- Add the grated potato, lower the heat to medium, and cook, covered, until the potato is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and transfer to 4 large (or 6 smaller) soup bowls. Garnish with the reserved bacon and scallions, and the cheese, if using, and serve.
Original recipe by David Bloom of Fine Cooking