What's the Best Corn for Corn Chowder?
Fresh sweet corn on the cob is the ideal corn to use here. It's best if it's in season, but you can use off-season corn from the grocery store and get good results.
Can You Make Corn Chowder with Frozen Corn?
Yes, you can use frozen corn, but you won't have the same intensity of corn flavor because you won't simmering the stripped cobs in the milk. To compensate, you could add about a cup of extra frozen corn, first whizzing it in a food processor.
For Great Corn Chowder, Cook the Corn Cobs
The step of simmering the corn cobs in the milk may seem surprising, but it adds a ton of flavor. You're essentially making a corn broth. After cutting the kernels off the cobs, you can extract more corn essence by "milking" the cobs: run the back side of your knife down the cob to extract the remaining sweet, milky liquid and add this to the chowder along with the cobs in Step 3.
Ways to Adapt Corn Chowder
To make it vegetarian, omit the bacon and use 2 tablespoons of butter.
To make it vegan, omit the bacon. Use 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, and replace the milk with the plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk of your choice. For a richer soup, use canned coconut milk for part of the non-dairy milk.
To vary the flavors:
- Add a minced jalapeno to make it spicy.
- Use more bacon, and instead of simmering the rendered bacon in the chowder, reserve it and add the crumbles just before serving.
- Add a teaspoon or two of smoked paprika.
- Use 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme instead of the fresh thyme.
- Add peeled shrimp during the last few minutes of cooking; simmer until firm and pink.
- Replace some of the milk with half and half or heavy cream to make a richer chowder.
- Swap the potatoes for sweet potatoes, omit the thyme, add a minced canned chipotle pepper, and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.
How to Make a Thicker Corn Chowder
For a heartier soup, add an extra potato.
Or, before serving the chowder, mash it with a potato masher to give it a thick-but-chunky texture. You could also pulse it with an immersion blender.
For a smoother texture, puree about a third of the chowder in a bender or food processor.
What to Serve with Corn Chowder
You can't go wrong with crusty bread and a simple green salad. For something more substantial, grill a few chicken breasts, or try our Bay Shrimp and Avocado Salad.
How to Store and Freeze Corn Chowder
Leftover chowder will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
You may freeze the chowder for up to 6 months, but it will change the texture and not be quite as creamy. To remedy that, consider pureeing the thawed soup.
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