Summer Corn Chowder

By • June 21, 2009 59 Comments

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Author Notes: I started making this chowder in 1990 from a recipe I found in Food & Wine. Not being a fan of bell peppers, I modified it by adding poblano peppers instead and I think it tastes much better. I have also roasted the poblanos on occasion for a richer flavor It's a huge crowd pleaser! - Nancy JoNancy Jo

Food52 Review: This is an earthy, moody corn chowder that alternates between sweet and hot. We were intrigued by the technique of cooking the vegetables in their own juices before adding milk and cream, which seems to intensify all the flavors. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 6

  • 6 medium ears of corn
  • 6 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 medium poblano, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 small celery rib, finely chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 medium boiling potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 2 cups light cream, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish
  1. Working over a bowl, cut the corn kernels from the cobs at about half their depth. Then, using the back of the knife, scrape the cobs over the bowl to release all the "milk"; set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, fry the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Crumble and reserve.
  3. Discard all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon drippings from the pan. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the poblano pepper, jalapeño and celery and cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, potatoes, salt, allspice, sugar, bay leaf and the reserved corn kernels and their "milk" and stir well. Cook over moderate heat until mixture begins to sizzle.
  4. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Stir in the cream and milk and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and season with black pepper to taste. Ladle the chowder into bowls and garnish with the crumbled bacon and parsley.

Tags: corn, farmers market, seasonal, serves a crowd, spicy

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Comments (59) Questions (2)


9 days ago mawhorts

This was stellar with some frozen roasted Hatch chiles I brought back from New Mexico (substituted for both the jalapeno and poblano). Like a few others, I used canned tomatoes for convenience. I also couldn't resist adding some peas at the end. Thank you for the delicious (and flexible) recipe.


13 days ago galsmu

Made this last week - big hit! Substituted canned green chilies for the fresh poblano and jalapeño because it's what I had. The fresh corn had a great sweetness. Great idea to up the heat with some cayenne. Love this recipe and will definitely make it again.


30 days ago chop chop

I have been meaning to make this dish for quite some time. Tonight I did. Best corn chowder I have ever had. Love the bit of heat this dish has. Going to a friend's "stay cation" at her home in the country in a few weeks and will make dinner for about 10 folks. This will be part of it. Kudos.


about 1 month ago mary anderson

Unbelievably good. I'm certain it needed no substitutions but to appeal to some dinner guests and to make it more of a main dish I made the following changes: eliminated the tomatoes and jalapeno, added 1/2 orange bell pepper, cayenne pepper, char roasted the poblano, used half and half in lieu of light cream, and finished with a dollop of fresh crab and smokey Spanish paprika.


11 months ago molly redden

My super market was out of poblanos so I charred a green bell pepper instead. To balance things out, I toasted a dried, seeded Guajillo chile and blended that with a cup or two of the soup, then stirred that back into the pot. I also neglected to skin the tomatoes before it was time to chop them up, so I used half a can of crushed tomatoes instead. Tasted wonderful!


11 months ago whmcdevitt

best corn chowder ever!


12 months ago courtney conway

I made this recently for a family lunch and it was delicious. We were on vacation without a stocked pantry so I skipped the bay leaf and allspice and used red pepper flakes and a regular orange pepper- but stuck to the recipe otherwise. It was fresh and delicious. Our corn was so sweet that there was no need to add sugar. I will absolutely make this again. I also made the whole-wheat pull-apart biscuit recipes on this site (by Lucas Volger) and they were a perfect pair.


12 months ago Yazoolulu

I made this last week and it was fantastic. I used thick-cut bacon and did not use the bacon drippings to fry the onions - it was still quite bacon-y. Since we had folks that couldn't eat spicy peppers, I used several garden red and yellow peppers which added lovely color and taste. Great recipe!


about 1 year ago Audrey

This was sensational. Thank you so much, Nancy Jo! This is going to become a summer staple!

On to my substitutions/cooking notes for future would-be cooks: I used 2c half-and-half and 1c lowfat milk which worked beautifully-- great body and the dairy taste didn't overwhelm the corn flavor to the chowder. (Though I don't imagine that's ever a problem with the original recipe-- however, I have had some too-dairy-heavy corn chowders in my life!)

Sadly, there were no poblanos at the market when I did my shopping, so I swapped that for a red bell pepper-- which worked great! I stil want to try it with a poblano next time, though. I blistered and peeled my red pepper but don't think it was necessary.

Also soaked my corn cobs in the dairy while everything else was cooking, to extract some extra corn flavor. No idea if this really ultimately contributed to the dish but it seemed like good corn chowder protocol!


about 1 year ago Jackie

Made this today for company. I used a 2 qt of half & half since my grocer was out of the light cream.. It was amazing!! I kicked up the spices a little (since I omitted the jalapeño) using poultry seasoning, season all, chicken bouillon & garlic salt.. It went wonderfully with my pastrami & provolone grilled cheese..


about 1 year ago anne

Amanda, is that pan a saucier from Al Clad? It looks like it, but I don't think I've ever seen one that large! It looks like the perfect soup pot.


over 1 year ago Kari2011

I made with a few modifications since I didn't milk the corn cob when I was freezing my corn. I also used some tomatoes I had canned during the summer. It was delicious, not too much heat or dairy.


over 1 year ago Jolie Hunt

Made as is and it rocked my world. My husband and I can't stop eating it!


almost 2 years ago Diana Ascarrunz

Overall very good - but if you're looking for a spicy chowder this isn't it.

The soup is actually very light and creamy. :)


almost 2 years ago plainhomecook

Not only satisfying to eat but also to cook - all the vegetables smelled fresh, and the bacon and roasted poblano perfumed the whole house. Thank you!


almost 2 years ago Stubor

I'm going to try this, but split the potato quantity with cauliflower; cover me, I'm going in!


almost 2 years ago chankari

Terrific chowder. Really fresh and just a touch spicy. The corn turned out beautifully - crisp and sweet. I made it vegetarian by using butter instead of bacon, then taking the advice of Nancy Jo and roasting the poblano for something smokey. I think the smoked paprika suggested would have been a good addition, if serving vegetarians (or if you just couldn't make to the butcher's on time!)


almost 2 years ago lisabu

Any ideas on how to adapt this for vegetarians? Just omit the bacon? Would you add anything else smoky, for example smoked paprika or sun-dried tomatoes or something?


almost 2 years ago Nancy Jo

I've never tried it without bacon, but your smoked paprika idea sounds great. I would add a tablespoon when you add the poblano, celery, and jalapeno so it flavors the oil. I also just tried a batch using all canned lite coconut milk for a dairy free version. Delicious.


almost 2 years ago MariahK

This was so good! I'm disappointed that I only made a 1/2 batch! I left out the tomatoes because I don't like them in chowder and added a pinch of cumin and a pinch of toasted ground fennel seeds from another corn chowder recipe. With a couple shrimp on top it was a great summer dinner. Delicious!


almost 2 years ago Sarah Gillis

Oh my god. Where to start... This is SUCH a delicious chowder. I was really skeptical in the beginning that the ingredients wouldn't create such a rich, flavorful and robust end result. I was beyond pleasantly surprised by the results. I followed the recipe, including a recommendation to roast the poblano. I paired this with cheesy biscuits (also found on Food52) which was just awesome. This will be part of the regular repertoire of family meals for me. Thank you!


about 2 years ago Chris Van Houten

Oooh I just made this and I am redubbing it "Second Helping Corn Chowder." I made it exactly as suggested but with a little less cream to suit my taste, and it is sublime- I had to go back for a second bowl right as soon as I put my spoon down from the first. The roasted poblano is possibly the best part of this dish, aside from the heaps of fresh sweet golden corn.


about 2 years ago StacyFischer

I wish Nancy Jo would cook this for me!


about 2 years ago 2-Little-Chicks

This was amazing! Loved the combination of the sweet corn and the subtle heat. I couldn't get any light cream, so I used 1 cup regular cream and 1 cup whole milk...came out perfectly. Thank you!


about 2 years ago erskinechef

I would love to me this but corn is not in season yet- what about using frozen organic corn? I know it won't be as good as fresh...


almost 3 years ago lschrive

Thank you - I don't know what else to say - this was amazing. Poblanos were just a lovely addition - thank you!!!


almost 3 years ago yum21

This recipe was great. I replaced regular potatoes with sweet potatoes and used can poblanos with the juice. It was excellent. I would even add a seafood element next time.


almost 3 years ago yum21

This recipe was great. I replaced regular potatoes with sweet potatoes and used can poblanos with the juice. It was excellent. I would even add a seafood element next time.


almost 3 years ago yum21

This recipe was great. I replaced regular potatoes with sweet potatoes and used can poblanos with the juice. It was excellent. I would even add a seafood element next time.


almost 3 years ago Foodelf

Made it last night and was blown away by the fresh, bright flavours. Naturally, it's all about the corn but the supporting case of ingredients and technique makes this corn chowder sparkle in a class of its own - the sneaky little backdrop of subtle heat is lovely. I used a medley of small nugget potatoes, including some red and purple ones, which produced a very pretty effect.

I'd planned on taking some for a friend when I visit tomorrow, but I'm not really sure I want to share. I'm definitely making this again while there's still great corn around.


almost 3 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

I have been trying out corn recipes this summer (it's the summer of corn this year, last year was the summer of zucchini)... This recipe was one of my favorites! Loved the poblano touch.


almost 3 years ago chefrockyrd

Mmmm added lobster to ours here in Maine!
fantastic recipe.


about 3 years ago Jacquie D

This sounds great! I'll make it for sure.......but where do I find "moody" corn? Maybe I'll ask at the farmers market.


about 3 years ago claireinaustin

this looks terrific, and I will give it a try. but what is light cream? I've only seen heavy cream in the grocery store.


about 3 years ago pulcinella #1

I'm assuming "light cream" refers to half & half.


about 3 years ago threefresheggs

Light Cream is Light Cream. It is not Half & Half, but it is not butter-fat enough to whip or make butter. It does thicken & will make most any cream sauce. It is ubiquitous in New England, being the coffee-cream of choice (half & half is for New Yorkers and dieters) but a challenge to find in New York, I can't really speak to it's availability elsewhere in the US. If you can find it, it will quickly become your go-to for sauce and chowder. If I wanted to make this w/out, I would use heavy cream, and reduce the amount to 1 or 1 1/2 cups. Make up the lost volume in whole milk. Never make chowder with reduced fat milk, I am fairly sure that is illegal in most N.E. states.


almost 3 years ago claireinaustin

Thanks for the information. I'm in Texas, and I've never seen it here, but now my curiosity is piqued and I'll look around for it . I appreciate having the backup plan using heavy cream, and will absolutely never use reduced fat milk.


almost 3 years ago claireinaustin

Thanks for the information. I'm in Texas, and I've never seen it here, but now my curiosity is piqued and I'll look around for it . I appreciate having the backup plan using heavy cream, and will absolutely never use reduced fat milk.


about 3 years ago artfulgourmet

Love this recipe! Summer Corn Chowder with Bacon is my favorite - love the addition of the poblanos for some heat!


about 3 years ago jlyn

Definitely trying this this weekend. And thanks for the tip about subbing poblanos for bell peppers. I will try that in other recipes - my husband hates bells.


about 3 years ago Paulaboh

For the hearty eaters in the family - I add one, or all three of the following: chicken, crab, (canned or fresh) shrimp. It is even great in the winter with fresh frozen summer ears of corn.


about 3 years ago Sigita

Made this today for dinner - and pureed a few ladles full in the blender and added back to the soup pot - I like my chowders a bit thicker and this added just the right amount of creaminess. Love the levels of flavor!


over 3 years ago Katie

When I made this last summer, I substituted New Mexican green chile for the poblano pepper and it turned out great! With summer just around the corner, I look forward to making this many times; it is one of my absolute favorites! Thanks for a wonderful recipe!


almost 4 years ago Laurenzim

Loving this recipe. We were looking for a great corn chowder recipe to round out the corn season and this one really hit the mark!!! Thanks!!


almost 4 years ago lynneR

I loved this recipe when it was posted in 2009 made exactly per the recipe and made it again this week. I did it this time with the bacon added back into the sauteing vegetables
instead of crumbled on top. I also used canned fireroasted diced tomatoes as the local ones are less than stellar. Loved it this way too.


almost 4 years ago constanterratic

I was doubtful I would enjoy this chowder because it didn't smell all that appealing, but I was won over big time at first taste! I had to omit the bacon (vegetarian), and I couldn't find a pablano pepper so I used one red bell pepper and an anaheim pepper (just because). Topped with a little feta, this chowder is comforting and something I would be happy to make again and again!


almost 4 years ago mainecook61

Delicious. I deleted the jalapeno because my home-grown poblanos have some heat. Added a carrot instead. I used the red-skinned, pink-fleshed potatoes I had just dug, which made for a visually gorgeous soup of many colors. I do find that it is a shade easier to strip corn from ears that have been blanched for a few minutes.


almost 4 years ago LaDonna

It was like eating summer-time in a bowl! Fabulous!!


almost 4 years ago MaryDD

I made this to have for lunch all week and it turned out wonderfully! I love the hot peppers and the sweet corn. The only thing I did differently is little chunks of pancetta instead of strips of bacon. Thank you!


about 4 years ago Heather Hughes

I made this the other night and my whole family loved it. Yummy!


over 4 years ago Texas Ex

This was absolutely delicious. The chowder is a restaurant worthy dish, and one of the best chowders I have ever tasted. A perfect use for seasonal corn!


over 4 years ago Jdtirado

After making this tonight, my wife is convinced that I'm a great cook! Little does she know, I'm only a good recipe follower. This is really yummy. Thanks!


almost 5 years ago Table9

This looks so wonderful! Thank you for sharing.


about 5 years ago linklau

This soup is SO good that my husband and I were both disappointed when it was all gone. I substituted sweet potato for the white, and it was fantastic. I will be eating this again!


about 5 years ago ornithophagus

Having just made this, I can concur, it is a fabulous recipe. Congrats!

almost 6 years ago elizacbrown

Yummy. Easy to make and delicious. I did not have a poblano, but did have some of my own fresh roasted tomatoes. I added those which gave it a nice smokey flavor.


almost 6 years ago CatherineTornow

Delicious recipe and gorgeous photo. Thanks!


almost 6 years ago Leslie_

I have to say I like this corn chowder even better than my own, of which I am very proud! The tomatoes and cream make the chowder so rich and delicious.


about 6 years ago jidorman

Having some of this chowder now. Holy moly, it is delicious.