My way of eating in the summer is usually just a simple reaction to what’s already in my kitchen. If I have ripe tomatoes, I slice them, sprinkle on some salt and line them up on a mayo-swathed slice of fresh bread. It is a reaction to the heat and humidity.
Farmers markets abound for us in June, July and August. They are plumb full of tomatoes, peas, beans, corn, squash, okra, cucumbers, plums, peaches, blackberries, blueberries and so much more. it makes the long summer days bearable. It is a time to preserve early in the morning, when it’s cool enough in the kitchen without overworking the air conditioning. It’s time to jam and jelly that fruit for the perfect biscuit or toast in September, to pickle the okra for a future Bloody Mary, to can those vegetables for a winter’s feast. It’s also a time to make that feast of many vegetable-rich dishes and celebrating the family you love and the friends you adore. So get cooking, because the summer bounty lasts only so long.
My Corn Chowder recipe is a rich but not heavy chowder bursting with corn flavor. It’s a soup you’ll want to enjoy again and again until the season ends.
- 10 ears fresh corn, shucked
- 6 cups whole milk
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ½ pound slab bacon, diced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup chopped well-washed leeks (white and some of the light green part)
- 3 medium celery ribs, chopped
- ¾ cup diced red bell pepper
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups small dice yellow potatoes
- 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, garnish optional
- Cut close to each ear of corn and slice all kernels off by holding an ear of corn with the small end in the center hole of a bundt or tube pan; set kernels aside.
- Combine milk and chicken stock in a large stockpot on medium-high heat. Add corn cobs and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Pour off most of fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon bacon drippings.
- Add 2 tablespoons butter to skillet and melt over medium heat; add leeks, celery, bell pepper, garlic, salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 7 minutes or until softened. Transfer to paper towel lined plate to drain.
- Remove cobs from broth and cool. Carefully scrape all of the residue from the cooled cobs with the edge of a knife. Discard cobs and add scrapings to the broth.
- When vegetables are well-drained of fat, transfer them to the broth. Place stockpot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.
- Add potatoes and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
- Add reserved corn kernels and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 6 minutes or just until corn is barely cooked.
- Remove 2 cups from pot and place in a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process to a thick puree. Pour puree back into the chowder and gently stir in the crabmeat. Simmer for another 5 minutes; remove from heat and stir in reserved bacon. Taste, and if necessary, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Cooking corncobs in milk and stock infuses this chowder with an intense corn flavor, making the most of the season’s sweet bounty. If you would like to add a little heat to the chowder, add some shopped chili pepper along with the leeks and bell pepper. The crab is not necessary, but it adds some heft and sophistication to what is normally a home-style soup. You can substitute 1 pound of large shrimp for the crab or use a combination of both for a heartier chowder. Left over soup can be pureed and served chilled with a swirl of heavy cream or yogurt.