CtBF -Fresh-off-the-Cob Corn Chowder

Fresh corn chowder. Most summers I spend a large percentage of my cooking on fresh corn, tomatoes and chiles, with some herbs thrown in. This year is different with many other commitments, and back to mostly cooking for one person with a busy schedule. We have local corn that is outstanding, though in the past couple of years, the farm swapped out corn fields for pecan trees (another terrific Arizona crop), and more alfalfa for hay. I went over yesterday, and oh my! It was closed for the day. Drat!! I didn’t even stop at my favorite farm stand as I’ll be out of town all next week, and already had more ingredients than I can probably use in the refrigerator. I love going as much for the experience and supporting local farmers as the produce itself. Alas… the grocery store got the nod.

The other thing about corn chowder is that I usually think of chowder as a cool-to-cold weather kind of dish, but here in the southwest, fresh sweet corn is a definite middle of the summer crop. But since I love corn in all forms, I was excited for this recipe to come up!

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Even Dorie admits that there is some fussiness with this recipe, since she asks that the vegetables get divided and cooked separately in 2 different methods. I forgot to pick up celery, so luckily this vegetable stock is pretty celery-forward to make up the difference. So: corn off the cob, cobs themselves, sweet onion, and garlic to start off, and a portion of potato (not this much – maybe a third). The first half of the vegetables are sautéed in some oil, then the stock, cobs, potato and thyme, rosemary & bay leaf are added along with water and the soup base.

My initial thought when I first tasted the chowder is that I over-did it on the herbs. The recipe calls for (my half-portion) a sprig each of fresh rosemary and thyme. I thought I was being conservative on both based on what I “see” when I watch chefs, and I also used only 1/2 of a bay leaf. Um. I think I’ll cut back next time, and have some fresh chopped for serving. Surprisingly the herbs kind of overpowered the corn a bit.

Meanwhile, a couple of slices of bacon need to be crisped – I used Applewood smoked from the meat case, since it’s got great flavor. Once that’s taken out and drained, the other half of the vegetables are sautéed in the bacon fat that remains in the pan. Finally, that gets deglazed with a little white wine.

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This all smells amazing as it cooks! Once the potatoes are cooked through in the soup base, the cobs are removed and discarded, half of the potatoes are removed and then diced into smaller pieces. The soup itself is blended to make a smooth chowder base.

Now the bacon, diced potatoes and the sautéed vegetables are added back into the chowder and heated through, finishing with a bit of cream, and seasoning with plenty of salt and pepper. I kept a bit of the bacon on the side to top it off, for that extra hit of salt, smoke and crunch.

As I noted, my first impression was that the chowder was too herb-forward, but as I worked my way through the bowl, I started thinking that maybe I was wrong. It’s quite delicious. Though to be sure, several bowls and pans to make a couple of servings of soup does go against the grain. But I don’t know – maybe it makes all the difference in the world, though I’m also already thinking of ways to streamline it, without getting rid of the layering of flavors and textures. Next time!!

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As always, this was a delicious recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook Everyday Dorie. This group will be now dedicated to cooking through the book with 2 recipes each month. You can see what all of these talented cooks/bloggers have to say by checking out this site.

11 thoughts on “CtBF -Fresh-off-the-Cob Corn Chowder

  1. looks great. after making it, i don’t see why we couldn’t first crisp the bacon in the soup pot, fish it out and use the bacon fat to cook off the full amount of diced veggies. then pull out half of that veggie mix to set aside for the end and proceed with making the base. one pot and fewer steps? i’ll try that next time.

    1. ooh that is a good idea too. We ended up doing everything at the same time. I cooked the bacon while getting the soup to simmer away. I also didn’t put the bacon into the soup and used it more as a topping.

      I’m also going to try doing this in the instant pot and do more slow cooker for the base part. I didn’t use nearly as many herbs as she described so mine would be different too. Still tasty & very corn forward 😀

  2. Kind of a bummer re the herbs. I know by the end you were thinking it was fine, but that’s not the best first impression to have! It does really look great and it sure was tasty, yes? I can see myself trying this again over the winter with frozen corn and fewer steps. 🙂

  3. yeah I know what you mean about the herbs. It was a lot of money for the herbs for us and I couldn’t think of what I wanted to do with all of them. So I ended up only buying thyme. That way it helped the corn shine more.

    I also don’t love celery so I didn’t put any in! 😀

  4. I had a good friend who runs a cooking school make this soup over the weekend. While she didn’t mind the labor-intensive chore of making it and thought it was delicious, she did complain about it not making very much chowder. She was at their beach house and had 6-8 mouths to feed. I also was surprised that albeit hardy and filling, the portions were small. Like you, I would love to cut down the prep work but don’t want to give up flavor.

  5. Hmmm… I didn’t think there were too many herbs. I wish I’d held the bacon back for a topping. It kind of got lost stirred into the soup. I really loved this soup, probably my favorite version of corn chowder I’ve made. So creamy without any cream, which I appreciated. Hope you get more fresh corn before the season’s over.

  6. What a great job you did ! On the soup prep and on the blog posting, your process photos are fabulous. Oh my did I enjoy this soup, even in the middle of our crazy hot summer in PA. Admittedly I am perfecting fine with boiled fresh corn on the cob during the season, so enjoying it in a chowder was a new adventure. And while I know the cobs in the stock made a difference, I am still going to test this one during the off season months with some good Trader Joes corn. Seriously enjoying this book !

    1. I’m with you. When there’s good corn. That’s dinner! Nothing else required. But this is really delicious. I often will freeze corn I get locally. Next best thing I think. I too am looking forward to making this again when it cools off.

      Sent from my iPhone

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