Frozen corn, potatoes, bacon, stock, and half-and-half, that’s the stuff dreams -and corn chowder- are made of. I know I should make this in June or July when sweet corn is in season, but with the heat index soaring into the triple digits, there is no way a heavy soup such as this one will make it onto our table. No, this soup is perfect for a cold winter evening and a simple grilled sandwich turns this recipe into a hearty meal. As written, this recipe for corn chowder produces about 6 quarts of soup, which is exactly (and all) my smaller stock pot will hold. Keep this in mind or just halve the recipe.
A note to the non-newbie cooks. I have written this recipe with a lot of details to explain for someone new to cooking the process of using a roux to make a cream soup. If you already have this concept down, the recipe is much less involved than it would appear at first glance. I run Home Ec 101 on the principle that it’s better to over-explain than have someone guess and have poor results.
Next time I make this, and there will be a next time. I’ll add another 2 slices of bacon and skip the butter. I’ll save some of the cooked bacon to crumble over the top with a few scallions for color.
Corn Chowder Ingredients
- 4 slices uncooked bacon (next time I’ll use 6 and omit the butter)
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 2 jalapenos -whole
- 2 TBSP butter
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 1/2 cup plain or all-purpose flour
- 3 quarts chicken stock -heated (I use the microwave)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large, white potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2 lbs)
- 8 cups frozen corn kernels
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 8oz cheddar cheese, shredded + additional for garnishing if desired
- fresh ground pepper – to taste
- OPTIONAL 3 cloves of garlic, minced -we have been enjoying adding more garlic to our diet
Slice the bacon into 1/2″ to 1″ pieces, this just makes rendering the fat a little easier. Heat a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the bacon pieces. Cook over medium heat until the fat begins to render. Add the two whole jalapeños and stir frequently. The skin of the jalapeños will blister and turn dark. This is a good thing, the oils from the outside of the jalapeño are mingling with the bacon grease, as most of the jalapeño’s heat is contained in the seeds and ribs of the pepper, this infuses the flavor without adding a lot of heat.
When the bacon is crisp, transfer it to a plate or bowl and set aside. You’ll be adding it back to the soup later. Be sure to leave all of the fat in your stockpot, as it is an integral part of the recipe. The browned bits clinging to the bottom of the pot are also intensely flavorful and important.
Add the diced onions to the pan and cook until soft, then add the 2 TBSP butter and 1/2 tsp salt. If you use homemade stock, increase the salt to 1.5 teaspoons. If you want a mild garlic flavor, add it at this point.
When the butter has melted, sprinkle in the 1/2 cup of flour and stir until you have created a thick roux. Turn the heat to medium low and stir the roux for about 3 minutes, this gets rid of the raw flour taste and ensures there are no lumps. Use your spoon to scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan and incorporate those into your roux, they add a lot of flavor.
Add the chicken stock to the roux a little at a time. Stir briskly and constantly to ensure all the lumps get worked out. For best results start adding the stock slowly and stirring between additions. You will reach a point where the stock is immediately incorporated into the soup, stir a few more times and call it good.
Keep the heat at medium low and bring to a simmer. Add the diced potatoes and allow the soup to simmer, but not boil. If the soup boils the liquid may separate from the roux and it will “break” and feel grainy. It won’t taste terrible, but it certainly affects the texture. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender.
Add the corn kernels and if you want a garlicky soup, go ahead and add the garlic with the corn. Once the soup has returned to the simmering stage add the cheese and stir until melted. Finally stir in the half-and-half, the reserved bacon, pepper to taste and serve.
This recipe was submitted to Rachel Matthew’s Virtual Soup Swap.