Corn. Yes, corn. I know what you’re thinking: that’s a summer food. Well, indeed it is, but a late summer food that stretches well into September, which makes corn a fall food, too.
In fact, some years, I eat more corn in early fall than in summer. When ears of sweet succulent kernels first appear, I find myself going slow, thinking, “There’s plenty of time.” I make a cold soup here, a salad there and eat lots of generously buttered cobs in between. Then, summer produce begins to fade. Tomatoes and corn keep the farmer’s market anchored and lively, but then even tomatoes begin to disappear. But corn is still there, and I frantically grab ear after ear… after ear.
At first I use my September corn to keep the flavors of summer alive. As the weather shifts, though, so does my cooking, and I remember that corn also makes great transitional dishes like this warm and hearty corn chowder.
Creamy, yet light and redolent of smoky bacon (a perfect pair with fresh corn), this soup is, hands down, my favorite way to celebrate summer while ushering in fall. Serve with grilled fish or chicken, a big salad that has some protein tossed in or with cooked barley thrown in for extra bulk and nutrients. Put on a sweatshirt, let in the autumn breeze and enjoy.
Adapted from Clinton Street Baking Company Cookbook
- 2 cups fresh-shucked corn (from about 4 ears), you can substitute frozen corn
- 12; cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup chopped bacon
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 small Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into big chunks
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
- Ground pepper, to taste
- ½ cup milk (skim, 2% or whole)
1. Put 1 cup of the corn and all of the heavy cream in a blender or the bowl of a food processor until blend or pulse until pureed. Set aside.
2. In a large stockpot with a lid, add the oil and bacon. Cook on medium heat until the bacon begins to brown. Add garlic, onion, thyme, cayenne pepper and bay leaves, and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the onion is translucent and soft.
3. Sprinkle the flour over the bacon-onion mixture. Stir in the butter and mix until the flour and onions are fully incorporated and make a smooth paste. Add the remaining cup of corn and potatoes and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Add broth, water, 1 tablespoon salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a boil. Turn the heat down and let the soup settle into a rollicking simmer. Cook until it thickens slightly, about 30 minutes.
4. Lower the heat and bring the soup down to a gentle simmer. Add the corn puree and milk. Do not bring the soup back to a boil. Continue simmering for 5 minutes. If the potatoes are not fork tender yet, simmer some more until they are just cooked. Otherwise, take the soup off of the heat. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves and serve!