In a 6-quart heavy pot, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium heat and sauté chopped bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve for garnish. Carefully pour out or spoon the bacon grease into a heat-proof container, leaving 2 tablespoons in the bottom of the pot.
Add diced chicken to hot pot; season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown. Add onion, carrots, and celery; cook, stirring, until vegetables are softening and chicken is browned. Add garlic, thyme, and bay leaf.
Pour in broth and water. Raise heat; bring to a boil. Lower to simmer; add potatoes and corn cobs to flavor broth. Cook 10 minutes; add corn kernels. Simmer another 10 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. Remove cobs and discard. With a potato masher, mash through soup lightly and briefly–just to thicken a bit, not to purée.
Add goat cheese and stir until melted. Taste, adjust seasonings. Serve hot garnished with reserved bacon, green onions, and a sprig of fresh thyme for each bowl. (Diners should pull the thyme leaves off into the bowl before eating soup. This truly makes the soup!) Whoever gets the bay leaf does the dishes.
COOK'S NOTE: While I’ve used leftover grilled corn here because I like the taste, you can use boiled corn or frozen corn for an any season soup. Fresh corn would also work perfectly well as the cobs help make a tasty broth and the corn cooks very quickly.