Smoky Corn Chowder

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This soup is gloriously rich and bursting with chunks of sweet corn and potato.

It gets its smokiness from bacon and chipotle pepper. The pepper’s heat is tempered nicely by the creamy broth. If you’re serving it with a meal and not as a main course, I recommend dishing it out in cups instead of bowls. (A little goes a long way.)

The corn measurement is approximate, a little more or less won’t hurt. (Hey, it’s a chowder.) To get 7 cups of fresh corn, you’ll need to cut the kernels off of about 7-9 ears, depending on their size. I’ve used frozen sweet corn with good results. If you do this, though, decrease the chicken stock by about a third of a cup to account for the extra water from the frozen corn.

If you don’t have homemade stock on hand, use a good quality low-sodium chicken stock, because the bacon should make your chowder plenty salty. I like Pacific Natural Foods brand a lot.

This chowder is a great addition to any Labor Day barbecue. It’s also a nice way to warm up on a chilly autumn evening. For a more elegant, dinner-party-esque version, garnish with cooked crab or lobster meat.

Smoky Corn Chowder

7 slices bacon, diced
1/4 cup dry white wine
7 cups fresh corn
2 cups red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. chipotle pepper
1 1/2 Tbls. chopped fresh chives

Serves 6-8

Make the base
Saute the bacon in a deep, heavy-bottomed stew pot until crispy and brown. Depending on how rich you want your soup (and how fatty your bacon is), you can drain off some or most of the rendered fat—or leave it all in the pot. It’s entirely up to you.

Turn the heat way down and pour in the white wine to deglaze your pan. (Beware of splatters—bacon fat burns are nasty!) Scrape the bottom of your pot to loosen all the nice brown bits of bacon.

Add the corn, red potatoes, onion, and garlic to the pot. Stir to coat the veggies with remaining bacon fat, and saute on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.

Pour in the chicken stock and simmer uncovered for about a half an hour. You want the potatoes to cook through completely.

Thicken the chowder
Transfer about half the soup to your blender and puree until completely smooth. Add the pureed soup back to the pot to thicken the chowder. Stir to combine.

If you don’t have a blender, or are feeling a little lazy, you can use a handheld stick blender. This will give you a good but slightly different result. Your chowder will wind up a little coarser and more rustic. Go slowly, and be careful not to puree everything. You want to leave some chunks of corn and potato.

Finish it off and serve
Add the heavy cream and chipotle. Stir to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes more.

Taste and correct seasoning as needed. If it’s too hot or thick for your taste, you can thin it out with a little more cream or chicken stock.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped chives. Serves 4-6, depending on the size of your bowls.


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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. I just made this soup, and it is absolutely amazing! And I haven't even added the cream and chives yet (I'm waiting for my other half to get home from work to do that). BTW, I got the chipotle powder at Christina's in Inman Square in Cambridge. Thanks for posting to the LiveJournal Cooking community. I've got your blog book marked and visit it everday.
  2. Aww, thanks so much! (That's really so nice to hear!) And I'm so glad you like the recipe! I'll have to check out Christina's again. I admit that whenever we head over there, I aim for the ice-cream side of the business. ;) How do they stack up price-wise against Penzey's? +Jessie
  3. I haven't been to a Penzey's for quite some time, so I'm not really sure. My husband actually picked up the chipotle one day (he works in that neck of the woods), but the other times I've been to Christina's I've been impressed at the prices. And my Christina's plan is to go buy a couple scoops and then peruse the spice store while eating it :) Christina's really is my favorite ice cream in the Boston area.
  4. Oh, yeah, Christina's ice cream is so good. (That whole block is yummy. Love the East Coast Grill, too.) OK, the next time we need to make a spice run, I'll hit Christina's and Penzey's so we can compare prices, etc. It may be a little bit, though, since we just stocked up not long ago. +Jessie