I like corn chowder best with fresh corn kernels, along with sweet summer onions and fresh-dug new potatoes. In summer, you can also use cobs as the base for a corn broth, which will make your fresh corn chowder doubly flavorful. Puréeing some of the kernels will thicken the base without flour. While corn chowder is typically made with milk, I prefer the richness that a little cream gives to it. You can make this soup in winter with frozen corn. Making extra corn broth and freezing it will also enhance a winter version. Sometimes in winter I’ll add a little slab of bacon, chopped and browned, to make the soup extra robust.
• 6 ears sweet corn
• 2 large onions
• 2 stalks celery
• 2 bay leaves
• 6 stems fresh thyme, tied together
• 1-1/2 tsp salt, divided
• 2 tbsp butter
• 3 cups unpeeled, red-skinned potatoes, cut in cubes (about 1 pound)
• 1 large clove garlic, grated or pressed
• 1/4 tsp nutmeg, grated
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
• Generous grating of black pepper
1. To make the corn broth, cut all the kernels off the cobs and set the kernels aside.
2. Cut the cobs in half and put them in a large saucepan or Dutch oven along with 2 quarts of water.
3. Cut 1 onion into quarters and cut the celery stalks into thirds.
4. Add both to the water along with the bay leaves, thyme bundle, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
5. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
6. Remove the cobs and strain the broth into a bowl or large measuring cup. You should have about 2 cups.
7. Put half the corn kernels in a smaller pan along with half the broth and simmer until well-softened, about 10 minutes.
8. Purée them in a standing blender, immersion blender, or food processor. Set aside.
9. Rinse the large saucepan and melt the butter in it.
10. Chop the other onion and sauté it in the butter on low heat until translucent but not brown, about 5 minutes.
11. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and add to the onions along with the rest of the corn, the rest of the broth, the garlic, the nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
12. Simmer partly covered over low heat until the potatoes and corn are tender. Stir in the puréed corn.
13. Just before serving, bring to a simmer and add the cream, parsley, and pepper.
14. Salt to taste. Stir, heat gently, and serve hot.
Looking for other fresh summer corn recipes to use in your grown-at-home corn or shell beans?
Barbara Damrosch enjoys fresh summer corn and beans right in the garden at her home, Four Season Farm, in Maine. She’s the author of The Garden Primer and co-author of The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook, both available at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS bookstore.