If you love eating clam chowder, but don’t love making it and having to acknowledge that raw clams are kind of stomach-churning in their sliminess, you’ll love this soup. It’s like a non-threatening, vegetarian clam chowder where corns gets to take the place of clams. Oops, did I say vegetarian? I have a terrible habit of forgetting that adding bacon to something that is otherwise vegetarian immediately negates its vegetarian status. Well, it’s an almost vegetarian chowder that is just laden with layers of corn from the broth to the base. It’s also an entire meal, which makes the considerable prep work well worth it.
One thing to keep in mind is that this soup will thicken very noticeably the longer it hangs out in the fridge. This is only an issue if you prefer that things stay soupy (versus stew-y), in which case just reheat it over medium heat and add enough cream to loosen to the desired consistency.
BA’s Best: Corn Chowder w/ Bacon + Potatoes
Taken from BA’s Best arsenal, with the most minor of tweaks
8 ears of corn, shucked, kernels cut off the cobs (but save the cobs!)
The rind from 1-2 wedges of parmesan (optional but encouraged – you can always buy a wedge and cut off the rind to use)
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and reserved, caps cut into ¼-inch pieces
2 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
5 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup dry white wine
4 oz (~4 slices) thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 lb Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise (or quartered if very thick), thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
1 red chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
Parsley leaves, for serving
Cut the kernels from the corn cobs into a medium bowl. Toss the cobs into a pot large enough to hold them all along with the parmesan rind(s), mushroom stems, thyme, bay leaves, 2 tbsp kosher salt, and 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced and fragrant (~60 minutes). Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl or large measuring cup, discarding the solids.
While the broth cooks, heat 4 tbsp butter in a large, heavy pot (such as a Dutch oven) over medium-high. Add the corn kernels, seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Corn is starchy – it really does well with a good good hit of salt. Keep cooking and stirring occasionally until the corn is tender and the juices have evaporated and browned the bottom of the pot (not burnt – browned!), ~10-15 minutes. Reserve ½ cup corn in a small bowl for serving; transfer the remaining kernels to a medium bowl. Deglaze the pot with the wine, cooking and scraping up the browned bits until the liquid is syrupy and reduced, ~2 minutes. Scrape into the medium bowl with the larger amount of corn.
Heat the remaining 1 tbsp butter in the same pot over medium and cook the bacon until golden-brown and rendered. Add the potatoes, shallots, leeks, mushrooms, and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly softened and lightly golden, ~12-15 minutes. Add the chile (if using) and cook briefly until fragrant and softened. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, allowing the flour to turn nutty and fragrant. Add the reserved corn broth to cover the veg – for me this was ~4 cups’ worth of broth. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to medium, simmering and occasionally stirring until the potatoes are tender, ~10-15 minutes. Add the cream and buttery corn kernels to the soup and cook, stirring, for another 10-15 minutes or until thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and let sit 15 minutes before serving.
To serve, divide the chowder among bowls and top with parsley leaves. Serve with carbs if you’re the kind of person who likes to chase carbs (potatoes) with more carbs (bread! bread! bread!)