Triple delicious with three layers of fresh corn flavor in every bite. Soup stock made from the shucked cobs. A portion of the corn chowder puréed to thicken the soup. And, nuggets of sweet corn throughout. No wonder Sweet Corn Chowder’s been one of our favorite summer soups for over 20 years. Though you can use frozen corn, with so much depending on the corn, the sweetest, tastiest corn makes summer’s best Sweet Corn Chowder.
Having just calculated that I’ve been making this soup for over 20 years, the reason became obvious. Paul and I will have been married 21 years in just a few weeks. Corn is his favorite vegetable by far. He can eat more sweet corn in one sitting than anyone else I know—as long as it’s great corn. Anything less than great corn, he’s done after the first ear.
It makes perfect sense that some of his love of corn transferred over to me. Preparing Sweet Corn Chowder was the only way to assure my getting a share of the great corn we’d bring home from the Saturday market.
Sweet corn versus field corn
The people who yearly test fruits and vegetables for pesticide residue, The Environmental Working Group, share some helpful facts about sweet corn.
- The EWG places sweet corn at the top of their Clean Fifteen list of fruits and vegetables.
- Because of its thick husks, pesticides don’t show up on the corn kernels.
- According to EWG scientists, “Most sweet corn has not been genetically engineered.”
- As of a few years ago, sweet corn represented less than 1 percent of American corn production.
Sweet corn is not the same as its cousin, the less sweet, starchier and more versatile field corn. The difference between these two varieties of corn goes much deeper than taste.
- The corn kernels of field corn in the United States are not grown for consumption as human food.
- At least 90% of field corn is genetically engineered to resist herbicides and kill certain pests.
- Field corn is the corn food manufacturers use to create the corn-based sweeteners, starches and oils typically included in non-organic processed foods.
More ways with corn
- Roasted Sweet Potato Chowder with Poblano Chiles and Corn
- Corn and Potato Chowder with Saffron Broth & Almond Cream
- Black Bean Salad with Corn and Quinoa
- Baked Polenta with Corn and Goat Cheese
White corn chowder with lobster & avocado
When you feel like indulging, purée the entire pot of Sweet Corn Chowder till it’s especially rich and creamy. Then embellish it with a garnish of sliced avocado, chunks of lobster and fresh chives. A most inspired and luxurious idea from the women behind Canal House Cooking and Canal House Cooks Lunch, Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton.
Golden-hued Sweet Corn Chowder is thickened not with flour but by puréeing a portion of the soup. That portion, along with some homemade almond milk, makes lusciously thick and creamy corn chowder. Using the shucked corn cobs in the stock makes vibrantly tasty corn chowder. And using the best corn you can find makes summer’s best Sweet Corn Chowder. Vegan, gluten & dairy-free.
Yield: 6-8 servings
Start to finish: 90 minutes
6-8 ears sweet corn (the number depends upon their size)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, ¼-inch diced
2 cups carrots, 1/3-inch diced
2 cups celery, 1/3-inch diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons salt
Dozen twists freshly ground pepper
1 red pepper, ¼-inch diced
3 cups potatoes, ½-inch diced
2 large sprigs fresh thyme
½ cup slivered, blanched almonds
1 ½ cups corn stock (or water)
¼ cup chopped parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Shuck the corn. Lay each cob on its side. Cut the kernels off the cob one side at a time.
- Prepare the stock. Place the cobs and the rest of the stock ingredients into a large soup pot along with 16 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the stock simmers, uncovered, for 30 minutes to an hour while you prepare the ingredients and the chowder.
- Prepare the soup. In a large, wide covered soup pot over medium heat, cook the diced onion in the olive oil for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the carrot, celery and garlic. Sprinkle with the salt and twists of fresh pepper.
- After a couple of minutes, stir in the diced red pepper, the potatoes and sprigs of fresh thyme.
- Strain the corn cob stock into a bowl. Add 8 cups of stock to the chowder ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the fresh corn, and simmer the soup for at least 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Prepare the almond milk. Blend together the slivered almonds with 1½ cups of the stock (or water) till smooth. Depending on your blender, it could take 1-5 minutes.
- In two or three batches (depending upon the size of your blender jar), purée about 1/3 of the soup and return it to the pot.
- Stir in the almond milk. Taste for salt and pepper and season to taste.
- Stir in the chopped fresh parsley and serve.