Matt’s been talking for a few weeks, now, about the corn chowder I made around this time last year. I made a curried corn chowder when we lived in our apartment a few years ago and it was definitely something to write home about, although no one wrote about it and we just enjoyed it, as people tended to do before Facebook. Last year, the chowder was more traditional, but nonetheless delicious, and for some reason, so summery, despite its warmth and chowdery-ness. Sweet summer corn, smoked bacon, and this year: the addition of roasted green chiles.
The joys of making a soup or stew, for me, are in the slow development of flavors, and figuring out the best way to go about that process. This time, I knew I wanted to really preserve that sweet corn flavor while at the same time, bring in a little heat and umami that a roasted green chile can provide. So, at the beginning of cooking, I let the chilies and half the corn roast together and I let the trimmed corn cobs boil in the broth the entire time, to draw out the sweet milkiness that is left after you trim the corn off the cobs. I pureed half the ingredients to blend up the chile skins, which I left on for flavor, and then added more chilies and fresh corn at the end, along with super smoky bacon to round everything out. The results were pretty balanced; just enough heat from the chilies, sweetness from the corn, and perfect with a crusty piece of bread to soak up all those flavors.
Summer is winding down and even if you miss out on making this soup while everything is still fresh, the method of cooking will give you wonderful flavors well into the winter soup months. Enjoy!
4 strips of thick cut bacon, cut into 1/4″ strips
1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 ribs celery, diced (about a cup)
4 roasted green chilies (two whole, two peeled, seeded and diced)
4 ears of corn, kernels removed and cobs reserved
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
5 ounces small, fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/2″ slices
1 1/2 cups half and half
Cook bacon in a large stock pot over medium-high heat until fat renders and bacon crisps. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel to drain.
Add onions, celery, two whole green chilies (stems removed) and half the corn kernels to the pan and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent. Add chicken stock and corn cobs and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Remove the cobs from the broth and discard. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender until very smooth. If you used a blender, return the pureed soup back to the pot and add the remaining corn, potatoes and chilies and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add half and half and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in the bacon and bring the soup back up to a simmer. You can also just use the bacon as a garnish if you want it to remain crispy. Serve with crusty, buttery bread and enjoy!