Corn Chowder Recipe

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Heather says:

Frozen corn, potatoes, bacon, stock, and half-and-half, that’s the stuff dreams -and corn chowder- are made of. I know I should make this in June or July when sweet corn is in season, but with the heat index soaring into the triple digits, there is no way a heavy soup such as this one will make it onto our table. No, this soup is perfect for a cold winter evening and a simple grilled sandwich turns this recipe into a hearty meal. As written, this recipe for corn chowder produces about 6 quarts of soup, which is exactly (and all) my smaller stock pot will hold. Keep this in mind or just halve the recipe.

A note to the non-newbie cooks. I have written this recipe with a lot of details to explain for someone new to cooking the process of using a roux to make a cream soup. If you already have this concept down, the recipe is much less involved than it would appear at first glance. I run Home Ec 101 on the principle that it’s better to over-explain than have someone guess and have poor results.

Next time I make this, and there will be a next time. I’ll add another 2 slices of bacon and skip the butter. I’ll save some of the cooked bacon to crumble over the top with a few scallions for color.

Corn Chowder Ingredients

  • 4 slices uncooked bacon (next time I’ll use 6 and omit the butter)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 jalapenos -whole
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup plain or all-purpose flour
  • 3 quarts chicken stock -heated (I use the microwave)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large, white potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2 lbs)
  • 8 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 8oz cheddar cheese, shredded + additional for garnishing if desired
  • fresh ground pepper – to taste
  • OPTIONAL 3 cloves of garlic, minced -we have been enjoying adding more garlic to our diet

Slice the bacon into 1/2″ to 1″ pieces, this just makes rendering the fat a little easier.  Heat a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the bacon pieces. Cook over medium heat until the fat begins to render. Add the two whole jalapeños and stir frequently. The skin of the jalapeños will blister and turn dark. This is a good thing, the oils from the outside of the jalapeño are mingling with the bacon grease, as most of the jalapeño’s heat is contained in the seeds and ribs of the pepper, this infuses the flavor without adding a lot of heat.

When the bacon is crisp, transfer it to a plate or bowl and set aside. You’ll be adding it back to the soup later. Be sure to leave all of the fat in your stockpot, as it is an integral part of the recipe. The browned bits clinging to the bottom of the pot are also intensely flavorful and important.

Add the diced onions to the pan and cook until soft, then add the 2 TBSP butter and 1/2 tsp salt. If you use homemade stock, increase the salt to 1.5 teaspoons. If you want a mild garlic flavor, add it at this point.

When the butter has melted, sprinkle in the 1/2 cup of flour and stir until you have created a thick roux. Turn the heat to medium low and stir the roux for about 3 minutes, this gets rid of the raw flour taste and ensures there are no lumps. Use your spoon to scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan and incorporate those into your roux, they add a lot of flavor.

Add the chicken stock to the roux a little at a time. Stir briskly and constantly to ensure all the lumps get worked out. For best results start adding the stock slowly and stirring between additions.  You will reach a point where the stock is immediately incorporated into the soup, stir a few more times and call it good.

Keep the heat at medium low and bring to a simmer. Add the diced potatoes and allow the soup to simmer, but not boil. If the soup boils the liquid may separate from the roux and it will “break” and feel grainy. It won’t taste terrible, but it certainly affects the texture. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender.

Add the corn kernels and if you want a garlicky soup, go ahead and add the garlic with the corn. Once the soup has returned to the simmering stage add the cheese and stir until melted. Finally stir in the half-and-half, the reserved bacon, pepper to taste and serve.


This recipe was submitted to Rachel Matthew’s Virtual Soup Swap.

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9 thoughts on “Corn Chowder Recipe”

  1. for our corn chowder, we use lots more potatoes (6-8) and less corn (2-4 cups), no cheese and 12-16 oz. of bacon. I also sometimes add celery and bell pepper but I have never tried the jalapeño… next time I will, though.

    Basically, I make a chunky potato chowder as a base for lots of other chowders.

    potato chowder + corn = corn chowder
    potato chowder + cheese + beer = cheddar/beer soup
    potato chowder + clams = clam chowder
    potato chowder + chicken = chicken chowder

    You get the idea. It is a wonderful base that once you get the hang of it and learn how to be adventurous, you can make a scad of tasty cauldrons of goodness!

    Another plus with potato based chowders is they are easily stretched if you have unexpected company or meager resources because of a lean paycheck or something.

  2. I thought I would share another chowder recipe that I recently tried and 18 out of 18 people liked, even those who aren't keen on fish. When you compare this recipe with Heathers, you will see that it is easy to just change a few ingredients for a different chowder that uses what you have on hand.

    Seafood Chowder
    This looks like a long list of ingredients and a lot of steps but it is actually very simple to make and with the exception of the fish and Half & Half, most ingredients are pantry items most of us have on hand.

    1 ½ lbs. potatoes, peeled & diced ½” pcs.
    4 slices bacon, cut up
    2 cups celery, small dice
    1 ½ cups onion, small dice
    ½ cup butter
    1 cup flour
    1 ½ tsp. chopped garlic
    ¾ tsp. dried sage
    1 ½ tsp. dried parsley
    1 tsp. dried thyme
    2 tsp. chicken broth powder
    4+ cups water
    — salt and pepper
    1 quart half & half
    ½ cup small diced fresh roma tomatoes
    2-3 lbs. fresh, boneless seafood (white fish, scallops, halibut, salmon, etc.)

    In a medium sauce pan, barely cover potatoes with water and ½ tsp. salt (or use the chicken broth). Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until almost tender, 5-10 minutes for most taters. Drain potatoes, RESERVING potato water. Set potatoes aside.

    Measure potato water, add enough additional hot water to equal 4 cups. Add broth powder, sage, parsley, & thyme. Stir and set aside.

    In a large, heavy-bottom pot, saute the bacon over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove bacon and reserve. In bacon grease left in the pan, saute onion and celery until onion is becoming translucent and celery is softening. Add garlic & butter and continue sauteing until melted. Add flour and mix in and saute for a blond roux. Slowly stir in broth water, whisking if necessary. Cook until beginning to thicken; add potatoes and bacon. Continue to cook, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes, allowing for flavors to meld and roux to completely thicken. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

    Decrease heat to a very gentle simmer and stir in Half & Half. Stirring often, bring back up to gentle simmer temperature. Add fish and tomatoes, stir gently as the fish will break up as it cooks. As soon as the fish is flaky, chowder is ready to serve.

    Yield: about 4 quarts
    Feeds: 8 as a meal, 16 as a soup coarse
    Total time: about 1 ½ hours

  3. I can't wait to make this. I work nights in an ER and finding something satisfying in the wee hours of the morning is difficult. Since I work a week and then off a week, I can cook during my downtime and have great food for work. Your blog is the best. I began following the daily calendar. I get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing. Thanks to life is so much sweeter.

    • Because of the roux, it's going to separate at least some. If you don't mind it being a bit grainy you'll probably be fine. Why not try freezing a small batch of leftovers to see if it's worth freezing more in the future? We usually eat all but a little, so I haven't frozen any yet.


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