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Shortcut speeds up corn chowder on busy evenings

There’s little so comforting on a busy evening than a couple of quarts of homemade soup ready in the fridge.

I have my mother-in-law to thank for preparing and sharing a big pot of corn chowder as the season for sweet corn at local farms was drawing to a close. She prepares hers with peppers from our garden, which are not my favorite ingredient, particularly in cream soups. But I still savored the results of her extra care taken to boil the corn cobs in the stock, yielding a sweet flavor that kept the peppers’ bitterness at bay.

More of a purist when it comes to “chowders,” I tend to favor recipes like the one below that incorporate a small number of ingredients to maximum effect. This one calls for the shortcut of canned cream corn, which makes this an easy meal, even on a busy weeknight. Frozen corn kernels could be substituted for fresh any time of year, eliminating the step of cooking the corn on the cob.

Billy Reynolds’ Corn Chowder

4 ears corn, husked

4 slices bacon

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium onion, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch dice

2 cups Russet potatoes, cut in 1/2-inch dice

2 tablespoons butter (for roux)

2 tablespoons flour (for roux)

3 cups chicken broth

3 cups milk or half-and-half

2 bay leaves

2 cans creamed corn

2 teaspoons fresh chopped parsley

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the corn in boiling water for 6 minutes. Cut in half and set aside to cool enough to handle. Cut off corn kernels and set aside.

In a large pan, saute the bacon with the canola oil over medium heat until crispy, turning 3 or 4 times. Set aside until cool, then chop into 1/4-inch pieces.

In same pan, saute the diced onion on medium low until translucent, for about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, broth, milk or half-and-half, bay leaf and bacon. Bring to a boil, then lower to medium heat and simmer for 8 minutes.

In a small saute pan, saute the butter and flour over low heat, stirring continuously, for 3 minutes. Add a cup of corn chowder broth to roux, mix well, then add to large pot. Add corn kernels and the creamed corn and cook for 4 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 6 servings.

— Recipe from chef Billy Reynolds of Billy’s Boston Chowder House in Los Gatos, Calif., courtesy of Tribune News Service.

Tribune News Service photo