May 30, 2015

Bacon Corn Chowder

I stepped outside this morning and my hair instantly tripled in volume from the humidity. Welcome to summer in Georgia, I suppose. But the weather is no reason to stop making soup, especially if such amazing soup-making ingredients are in season. Corn makes wonderful soups, and it's even better when you add bacon.

Unfortunately, many people think corn soups automatically mean tons of cream, and my waistline just isn't ready for that kind of commitment. Luckily, I've found that a combination of milk and potatoes yields a thick, creamy texture that eliminates the need for cream and all its extra calories.

The corn also works to thicken the sauce since it's so starchy. I start by cooking it using my usual method (bringing water to a boil, add salt and baking soda, turn off the heat, add the corn, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes). Once it's cooked and cooled, I remove the kernels and try not to let the juice go to waste. Removing the kernels can be a little tricky, but I bought this tool that's like a vegetable peeler but for corn. It has little teeth that remove the kernels as you "peel" the cob, and it's really convenient. If you don't happen to have one of those, a sharp knife works almost as well. I prop the corn up on an upside-down bowl for leverage and use the knife to slice the kernels off.

While the corn is cooking, it's time to cook the bacon. I cook extra for me to snack on, but all you want to do is cook it in a big pot until crispy and chop when cool, making sure you leave all the delicious bacon fat in the pot. I use that fat to cook the onions and garlic in until tender. They soak up the salty deliciousness so it doesn't go to waste. Once they are tender, I add diced potatoes, chicken broth, and herbs. That mixture simmers together until the potatoes are tender.

To combine everything, I stir half the corn kernels plus the milk into the soup base, simmer it for a few minutes, and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. It should be thick and velvety; you're not adding any more liquids after this point, so if it's too thick for your taste, go ahead and add some more chicken broth.

Once I'm satisfied with the consistency, I stir in the remaining corn kernels and bacon and simmer it all together for a few minutes. I like to see the kernels in my corn soup, but if you don't, you can add all the corn before you blend it so you have a perfectly smooth soup. I don't recommend blending the bacon, however, because the texture would not be pleasant. I don't recommend omitting it either since it adds a nice saltiness to counter the sweet creaminess of the rest of the soup. Don't be scared off by the fact that this is a summer soup, too; great food is great food regardless of the season.

4 Strips Bacon
1 Yellow Onion, Diced
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, Peeled & Diced
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1/2 tsp Thyme
6 Ears Corn
2 Cups Milk
1 tsp Baking Soda

Heat a large pot of liberally-salted water to a boil. Stir in the baking soda. Add the corn, turn off the heat, and let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the corn and cut off the kernels when cool.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large pot. Remove and chop when cool.

Cook the onions and garlic in the bacon fat until translucent and tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes, chicken broth, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until tender.

Stir half the corn kernels and the milk into the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes, then puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Add the remaining corn kernels and bacon and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serves 4-6

No comments:

Post a Comment