Corn chowder has the coziest corner of my heart (or belly) all to itself. I associate the start of our love affair with one of my most favorite childhood memories – camping on Mt. Desert Island in Maine with our dear family friends, with whom we made this week-long trip each summer for years. Thinking about those weeks genuinely brings up one of the happiest feelings I have ever had. Everything about that week at the close of each summer was the best, but among those bests was the food. We were gourmet campers, the adults preparing menus weeks in advance, lugging, along with tents and sleeping bags, and tarps (so many tarps!), and bug spray, storage bins stuffed with spice jars and pastas and baking needs and other sundries unlike normal camping requisites. And we ate gloriously. And it ruled. And my mom and J still HAVE to figure out how to get it together and write their gourmet camping cookbook, because COME ON, don’t you want to camp gourmet? But I digress. Corn chowder. It was during one of those August weeks that I came to know the magic of corn chowder. (Gourmet corn chowder at that!) I have yet to replicate or encounter a version of this soup that matches that amazing food memory, but boy have I ever tried. Every version is good. This one, too. And what is great about this one is that *despite* being dairy-free, it still has a deep creamy richness and layers of flavor and texture. I’m pretty sure I could take it camping. But I’ll let you decide. Here you go.
WHAT YOU NEED makes 4-6 servings
* 1t unsalted butter
* 1/2 a sweet onion, chopped
* 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
* 1lb bag frozen sweet corn (according to my googling, you’ll need 3ish Cups fresh corn kernels off the cob if you want to go that route – but in the winter I find it’s hard to get good sweet corn fresh, so frozen works for me!)
* 3C low-sodium broth (veggie or chicken preferably, or water works, too)
* 1 medium potato (russet works great), peeled and diced
* 1t kosher salt
* 1t ground black pepper
* 3 slices turkey bacon (or regular, but I generally have turkey bacon on-hand, and it’s leaner, so why not), cooked to crispy and then chopped up
* 2-3 fresh green onions, chopped
WHAT TO DO
Melt the butter in a soup pot and cook the onions in it, a few minutes, until they begin to soften and turn golden. Add the bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally, allowing it to soften as well.
Add the corn, broth (or water), potato, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, checking to make sure the potato chunks are fork-tender.
If you have an immersion blender, blend in the pot until you have a chunky, pureed consistency – you still want pieces of vegetables, but you also want it to thicken up. If you don’t have an immersion blender, no worries. Allow it to cool a bit, then transfer half of the soup to a regular blender or food processor and puree, then return it to the pot and mix it all together.
Add the bacon bits and green onions, and simmer again on low for about 10 minutes or so. And there you go. Serve it up and enjoy.
Now. Close your eyes and picture yourself eating this yummy soup under a crystal-clear sky of shooting stars at a picnic table with a crackling fire beside you. Heaven.