Recipe: Summer Corn Chowder

Labor Day is just around the corner which means that summer is coming to an end.  It doesn’t feel quite like it yet here in Shanghai but it still means that the last of the summer crops will slowly stop being imported.  One thing that I miss about being in the US in the summertime is the corn.  I remember ears of corn in their husks at the market piled in a bin and priced less than a dollar each.  Mmmm!…and their sweet crunchy taste.  Although the corn here isn’t as delicious as in the US, sometimes more starchy than juicy tasting, I wanted to incorporate it into a dish.  This recipe on my favorite food blog Serious Eats popped up just at the right time.

In Shanghai, sometimes running to the grocery store for specific items can lead to disappointment of unavailability, I placed an order from my favorite delivery grocer in town Fields.  Here is what went into my order:  corn, bacon, celery, tomatoes, potatoes, parsley.  Where other specific items were bought are noted in ingredients.

Prep Time: 20 min |  Cook Time: 45 – 50 min | Difficulty: Easy | Serves: 6

(leftovers keep in fridge for 3 days)

5 large ears of corn
6 strips of bacon, cut into half inch pieces
1 small yellow onion, chopped
Half 7 oz. can of diced green chillies, City Shop
1 small celery rib
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
2  medium potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon table salt
Pinch of ground all spice, City Super
Pinch of granulated sugar
Pinch of cayenne pepper, GL Japan Plaza
1 small bay leaf, GL Japan Plaza
1 cup heavy whipping cream, at room temperature (can substitute light cream)
1 cup whole milk
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley for garnish

  1. Working over a bowl, cut the corn kernels from the cobs at about half their depth. Then, using the back of the knife, scrape the cobs over the bowl to release all the “milk”; set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan (I used a dutch oven), fry the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 5-8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Reserve.
  3. Discard all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon drippings from the pan. Add the chopped onion and cook over moderate heat until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the celery and cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the diced green chillies, tomatoes, potatoes, salt, allspice, sugar, cayenne pepper, bay leaf and the reserved corn kernels and their “milk” and stir well. Cook over moderate heat until mixture begins to sizzle.
  4. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, 45 to 50 minutes. Stir in the cream and milk and bring just to a boil.* Remove from heat and season with black pepper to taste. Add more cayenne if needed.  Ladle the chowder into bowls and garnish with the crumbled bacon and parsley.

*You can add more milk, cream or even some chicken broth if you want a more soupy chowder but I liked this one chunky.

This recipe turned out great!  It makes great leftovers since soups always taste even better the next day allowing the flavors meld together.  Next time, or for the fall or winter, I’ll try it with frozen corn and see how it turns out.

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