Oh YUM, this was good! I make corn chowder quite a bit, but this one was the BEST! There are a few things that made it extra delicious. The first is fresh corn. I make corn chowder in the winter as a cozy warm-you-up soup, but I use frozen corn because fresh is not in season. Using really fresh summer corn makes a very different soup. It just tastes like summer. I know soup is not the usual go-to for a summer dinner, but the summer weather here in San Clemente isn’t too hot. We get this “marine layer” thing that keeps it nice and mild. Plus, I just love soup and can’t go a whole season without making it!
Another thing that set this soup apart is simmering the corn cobs in the stock to get a rich and sweet corn flavor that adds so much to the soup. Pureeing some of the cooked corn with some stock in the blender gives a great texture to the soup as well.
Now, last but not least, the final thing that put this soup on a whole other level…drum roll please!!! GREEK YOGURT!
I know this is a simple addition, but it gave the soup a rich, creamy texture without adding the fat that heavy cream does. It also adds a fresh flavor that compliments the fresh corn so well. The trick to cooking with Greek yogurt is tempering it first so that it doesn’t separate in the soup. The high protein content of Greek yogurt can make it react funny in high heat. Whisking a little hot soup into the yogurt before adding it to the pot helps this problem. You also want to add it at the very end with the heat low or off.
Now I know some of you are rolling your eyes thinking, “simmering corn cobs” and “tempering yogurt”…ugh! Yes, these are extra steps to an otherwise simple recipe, but they make such a difference in the flavor. I don’t think I will ever make my corn chowder any other way again.
Summer Corn Chowder
- 6 ears of corn
- 2 quarts of chicken stock (8 cups)
- 8 slices of bacon
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 celery stalks with leaves, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 pound gold potatoes, peeled and diced small
- salt and pepper
- 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) 2% or full fat greek yogurt (I like Fage)
- Fresh chopped parsley for garnish
- Grated Parmesan or sharp cheddar for garnish
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees to cook the bacon. Remove the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside. Once the corn kernels are removed, put the cobs in a large stock pot and add all but one cup of the chicken stock (you will need this reserved stock to blend some of the corn later). Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of the corn kernels to the pot and simmer for 10 more minutes.
While the corn cobs are simmering, cook the bacon on a cookie sheet lined with heavy duty aluminum foil until crisp (about 15-20 minutes). Drain the bacon on paper towels and set aside to crumble for topping the soup. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat.
In a large dutch oven (I used my 5.5 quart Le Creuset), heat the olive oil and the reserved tablespoon of bacon fat on medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 – 10 minutes or until golden. Add the celery, red pepper, and the remaining raw corn kernels and saute for 10 more minutes.
Remove the corn cobs from the stock and discard. Using a strainer, strain the stock into the pot with the onions, red pepper, celery and corn and add the cooked corn from the strainer to a blender. Add the potatoes to the pot with the stock and veggies, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. I used 3 teaspoons of salt with my low sodium stock, but the amount you will need depends on how salty your stock is. Start with 2 teaspoons and add as needed.
Simmer all of the veggies for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. While the veggies are simmering, add the remaining 1 cup of chicken stock to your blender with the cooked corn and blend until smooth. After the potatoes are tender, add the blended corn to the pot and mix well. In a small bowl, temper the Greek yogurt by whisking in some (about a cup) of the hot soup gradually until it is mixed in well. Turn off the heat and add the tempered yogurt to the soup and mix well.
Serve topped with crumbled bacon, grated cheese, and fresh chopped parsley on top. And of course…good crusty bread!