Easy corn chowder recipe with a classic combination of aromatic vegetables, sweet corn, chunks of tender potatoes, and smokey bacon. Pureeing some of the kernels creates a creamy texture without having to add any flour for thickening.
Dishing out big scoops of hot corn chowder will bring instant comfort to all those lucky enough to get a bowl of it. Chowders are typically a rich and chunky soup featuring a roux and cream base. For this recipe, I wanted to create a version that has a creamy texture that doesn’t rely on flour and butter as a thickening agent.
Blending a portion of the corn kernels breaks them down into tiny pieces, adding body to the soup. This also releases the natural corn starch for extra thickening and sweetness. Adding in some milk and cream right before serving creates a luscious texture all will enjoy.
Removing the corn kernels
When working with fresh corn, you want to remove the kernels from the cob and also scrape off the pulp. Simply place the bottom of the corn on a cutting board and securely hold the pointy end upright.
Use a chef’s knife to carefully cut down the ear of corn, removing most of the kernels. Then use a large spoon to scoop out the little pulpy bits remaining. My culinary school instructor said that there are starch and sugars in the pulp that will enhance the flavor of the chowder. Don’t let it go to waste!
How do you thicken corn chowder?
Traditionally, corn chowder is thickened with flour and butter, but I took a different approach to make the recipe gluten-free. A little more than half of the raw corn kernels are blended into a smooth puree with the chicken broth (or chicken stock).
How to make corn chowder
- Remove corn kernels from the cob.
- Use a spoon to extract the extra pulp remaining on the cob.
- Blend 4 cups of kernels and chicken broth until smooth.
- Saute the bacon pieces in a large pan over medium-high heat until crispy, remove and drain.
- Saute onions, carrots, and celery until tender.
- Add garlic and thyme, and cook until fragrant.
- Add remaining corn kernels, saute for 1 minute.
- Add potatoes, corn puree, milk, bay leaf, salt, and pepper.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Turn off the heat, and stir in the half-and-half and parsley.
- Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
There are many different types of potatoes that you can use for this corn chowder recipe. I recommend using a combination of mealy and waxy, that way you have intact chunks to grab with your spoon, and smaller pieces that easily crush and add extra body to the soup.
I use equal parts russet and red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Yukon gold potatoes are also an excellent choice as they have a buttery and creamy texture.
Bring on the flavor
To heighten the savory flavor and add depth to the dish, pieces of bacon are cooked first in the pan until crispy and then placed on a paper towel to drain the excess grease. I like to save a few bacon bits to add on top before serving. To elevate the aromatics in each bite, I add a classic mirepoix consisting of diced onions, carrots, and celery are sauteed in the pan, followed by garlic and thyme.
Can you use canned or frozen corn?
Yes, for convenience, canned or frozen corn will work for this recipe. Make sure to defrost any icy kernels before use. This can be done by adding the corn to a strainer with lukewarm water running over it until defrosted. You will need 7 cups of kernels.
What to serve this with
Why puree the kernels?
Pureeing the corn kernels does two things. It creates corn particles that suspend in the soup which elevates the creamy texture by physical means. It also releases more of the trapped cornstarch inside each kernel helps with thickening the soup.
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- 6 cups corn kernels, about 7 cobbs, divided
- 3 cups chicken broth, or chicken stock, divided
- 4 slices bacon, ½-inch pieces
- 1 cup diced yellow onion, ¼-inch dice
- ¼ cup diced carrots, ¼-inch dice
- ¼ cup diced celery, ¼-inch dice
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
- ½ pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
- ½ pound red potatoes, cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 cup whole milk
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, as needed for seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup half-and-half
- 1 tablespoon minced parsley
- Cut the kernels off the cob and then use a spoon to scrape the excess pulp. Transfer to a medium bowl.
- Add 4 cups of corn kernels and 2 cups chicken broth to a blender. Process until smooth, 1 minute on medium speed.
- Add bacon to a large dutch oven or pot. Heat the pot over medium heat, cook and stir bacon until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Add onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until onions are translucent and vegetables are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add garlic and thyme, cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
- Add the remaining 2 cups of corn kernels and saute for 1 minute.
- Add potatoes, corn puree, 1 cup of chicken broth, milk, salt, pepper, and bay leaf.
- Bring soup to boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Stir every few minutes and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and discard bay leaf. Stir in the half-and-half and parsley.
- Taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
- Divide the soup into serving bowls. Top with crispy bacon and parsley.
- Serving: 1 cup
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