Summer’s Best Corn Chowder

Preparation info

  • Makes


    Soup-Course Servings
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Get in There and Cook: A Master Class for the Starter Chef

Get in There and Cook

By Richard Sax

Published 1997

  • About

Here’s a creamy chowder with full corn flavor; note that it’s made without flour or cream. With shrimp added (see the variation opposite), the chowder becomes a great height-of-summer supper. And the recipe makes enough to feed a crowd or provide ample leftovers.


  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 thick slices bacon, cut into ½-inch lengths
  • 3 medium-large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 5 slender carrots, trimmed, peeled, and sliced ¼ inch thick on a sharp diagonal
  • 3 slender celery ribs, trimmed, strings removed (Celery Stringing), and sliced on a sharp diagonal ¼ inch thick
  • 1 pound (4 or 5 small-medium) new or boiling potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise ½ inch thick
  • 2 cans (about 14 ounces each) chicken broth, preferably reduced-sodium
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 7 cups corn kernels with milky pulp (cut and scraped from 11 to 15 ears), 4 or 5 cobs reserved
  • cups whole milk, or more as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded (Tomato Basics), and cut into large dice
  • 3 tablespoons ½-inch lengths snipped fresh chives
  • Pilot, oyster, or other plain crackers, for serving


    1. Combine the oil and bacon in a nonreactive large, heavy saucepan or casserole over medium heat. Cook the bacon fairly slowly, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon and pouring off the excess fat once or twice, until the bacon pieces are lightly golden but only partially crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. With a skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain; set aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan.
    2. Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the pan, tossing with a wooden spoon to coat. Sauté over medium heat, tossing frequently, until the vegetables have softened slightly but are not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, chicken broth, 1½ cups of water (which should only partially cover the solids), and thyme. Break or cut the reserved corncobs in half; tuck them into the liquid. Cover and simmer the soup gently until the potatoes are tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes.
    3. If you have time, uncover the soup and set aside to cool at room temperature for about an hour, to allow the flavor to develop even more and the fat to rise to the top of the soup for easy skimming. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs and corncobs, using a small knife to scrape all possible pulp and liquid from each cob back into the soup. Skim the fat and froth from the surface with a skimmer or large metal spoon.
    4. Stir the corn kernels with their liquid into the soup. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and then simmer, adjusting the heat as needed, until the kernels are tender, about 3 minutes. With a skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer about 3½ cups of the solids to a food processor; process until coarsely pureed. Stir the puree back into the soup along with the milk; return nearly to a simmer (do not boil or the milk may curdle). Adjust the consistency so the soup is lightly thickened (if necessary, puree slightly more solids and return the puree to the soup, or thin as needed with a little more milk). Season to taste with salt and a few generous grinds of pepper. (The recipe can be made in advance to this point, cooled, and then refrigerated. The flavor of the chowder will deepen on standing, so do so if possible.)
    5. Return the chowder to a simmer, if necessary. Stir in the reserved bacon, the tomatoes, and half of the chives; cook gently for few moments to heat the tomatoes through. Correct the seasonings again; add a little more milk, if needed, to thin the soup slightly. Serve hot in wide soup bowls, scattering the remaining chives on the surface of each portion. Pass pilot, oyster, or other plain crackers alongside.