The first time I made this smoky corn chowder, to test the recipe, our friends Bob and Charlotte came for dinner. Bob, a wonderful potter, brought a new soup tureen he'd designed. I proclaimed the tureen a hit, and he ate three servings of soup, which I think qualifies as a hit, too. Here in New England, everyone loves chowder. Clam chowder, fish chowder, scallop chowder -- clear or white or, sometimes, red -- each has its devoted fans. If you don't eat fish or shellfish, you need not be left out of our lovefest; this fish-free corn chowder might become your new favorite. It has all of the heft of seafood chowders, plus added natural creaminess that oozes from the corn. Our season for fresh corn begins in a couple of weeks, and lasts only until early September; during the rest of the year, we rely on good-quality frozen organic corn, or Trader Joe's frozen fire-roasted corn, which doesn't need to be defrosted before you add it to the soup pot.
Smoky corn chowder
8 oz sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large leek, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (sweet or hot)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
15 oz frozen corn (or fresh corn kernels)
3 cups low-sodium homemade or store-bought chicken broth
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup skim (nonfat) milk
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish
In a Dutch oven or large sauce pan, cook the bacon over low heat until it's crisp, but not burned. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings. Add the leek and cook, stirring frequently, until soft but not yet brown.
Add the garlic, paprika and cayenne, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the corn, broth, half-and-half and milk. Raise heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the soup is just beginning to boil. Remove from heat.
If you like your chowder thicker, use an immersion blender to puree half of the soup. Add the bacon back into the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot, garnished with scallions.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Corn chowder, from Simply Recipes
Roasted corn chowder with lime, from Gluten-free Goddess
Bacon-cheddar cauliflower chower, from Iowa Girl Eats
Parsnip chowder, from Use Real Butter
Corn and chicken chowder, from Buns in My Oven
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