Whitney in Chicago made my day today. Around lunchtime, she posted to twitter about a new blog post with her recipe for corn and bacon chowder. The rest, as they say, is history. I ran across the street to the Prudential Plaza farmer’s market and picked up some celery and chives to go in the soup. I had some peppered Neuske’s bacon at home in the fridge, along with a few ears of corn and some german butterball potatoes from Nichol’s Farm.
Local, wild celery is crunchy mid-summer treat, and if you’ve never purchased celery from a local farmer – try it soon, while it’s still in season. Local celery has an intensity of flavor that the stuff you buy in plastic bag will never have. And the leaves of celery are also a nice addition to soups and stocks, to add another layer of celery goodness.
I changed up Whitney’s recipe just a bit – using corn flour instead of wheat flour, chipotle puree instead of chipotle powder, and omitting the greek yogurt garnish, to keep it dairy-free. The finished soup is spectacular. The smoky spice of the chipotles and bacon plays perfectly against the sweetness of the corn, and the burst of acidity from a few spoonfuls of diced sungold cherry tomatoes. This is the perfect soup of summer, and I think we’ll have a few more pots of this gem before the sweet corn season passes.
Smoky Sweet Corn & Bacon Chowder
Serves 7 (if you don’t eat two bowls, which is hard resist)
4 ounces of bacon, (about 5 slices) diced
1 large onion, diced
5 celery ribs, diced
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 cup minced celery leaves (optional – if your celery doesn’t have leaves, don’t worry about it)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chipotle puree
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh-cracked black pepper
3 medium-sized potatoes, cubed
3 tablespoons corn flour (if you’re not gluten-free, just use regular flour)
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup of water
4 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cob – reserve a couple of the cobs
a few crumbles of bacon
diced cherry tomatoes
- Saute the bacon in a large soup pot until mostly crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel and set aside. Drain all but 1 tablespoon bacon drippings from the pot (save in a jar to stash in the fridge). Return the pot to the stove, turn the heat up to medium. Add the onion, celery and stir to coat the vegetables with the oil. Cook until onions are translucent, and begin to soften – about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook another five minutes, until the potatoes have just begun to soften. Add all of the herbs to the pot, and stir. Turn the heat down to low and sprinkle the corn flour over the vegetables. Stir and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Add the chicken stock, chipotle puree and water. Add all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon to the soup. Next, stir in the corn kernels. Finally, add the reserved corn cobs to the soup (which will help flavor and thicken the broth). Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Before serving, remove the corn cobs, taste, and adjust the seasoning of the soup, adding a bit more salt if necessary. Garnish each bowl with the reserved bacon, minced chives and a spoonful of diced cherry tomatoes.