Summer Corn Chowder

By • June 21, 2009 60 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.

More Great Recipes: Soup|Corn Chowder|Ribs|Corn|Tomatoes

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Comments (60) Questions (2)


27 days ago whmcdevitt

i just made this again and i repeat "best corn chowder ever!!!!!!)


about 1 month 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.


about 1 month 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.


2 months 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.


3 months 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.


12 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!


about 1 year ago whmcdevitt

best corn chowder ever!


about 1 year 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.


about 1 year 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.


almost 2 years 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!


about 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!)


about 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?


about 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.


about 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!