Corn chowder is the ultimate summer food. Soup? In summer? Absolutely. Corn chowder is a celebration of summer using peak-season corn, my favorite summer food and one of my top WW zero point foods.
Now, at the tail end of July, is peak corn season and the farmers’ markets are overflowing with fresh corn begging to be made into corn chowder. Sweet, fresh corn is the star in this luscious, creamy chowder that demands that corn isn’t just a side you serve with butter.
This corn chowder has a subtle, smoky undertone that pairs perfectly with sweet summer corn to make one of my favorite comfort foods. For only 4 WW SP for a 2 cup serving, you better look up your local farmers’ market and get some corn while it’s in its prime.
Fresh is Best
While corn to plentiful in the summer, the best corn is the corn picked within 48 hours of eating (preferably within 24 hours). If you grew up seeing your grandmother add a big handful of sugar to boiling water for corn, it was to make up for less than sweet corn.
Fresh corn doesn’t need that. While I do buy my corn from supermarkets at times, nothing beats fresh corn from farmers’ markets.
Favorite Farmers’ Markets in the City and Suburbs
My favorite farmers’ market in Philadelphia is Headhouse Farmers’ Market. Every Sunday, year-round, local vendors fill the covered walkway in Philadelphia’s Society Hill with 50 rotating vendors.
Not only do you get some of the freshest food straight from local farmers like Three Springs Fruit Farm, but they also have incredible food trucks like Mom Mom’s Pierogis and Poi Dog.
When you’re there loading up on all the fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, and bread, you have to get some food from Philly’s best food trucks and maybe a classic Zsa’s Ice Cream sandwich before leaving.
Out in the suburbs where I live, my favorite farmers’ market is Wolff’s Apple House which has been around since 1910. This year-round establishment is open seven days a week, has their produce labeled with exactly which farm it comes from, and it is absolutely adorable.
My girls love walking around with their little shopping carts getting their pick of fruit and they always end up playing in the little kitchen play area that’s set up for Wolff’s littlest shoppers.
One thing I love about Wolff’s in the summer is that they pick their corn DAILY. This is the freshest corn around and the corn I used for this amazing corn chowder.
Enough talk, let’s get to this chowder.
I like cooking my chowder in a big dutch oven. If you don’t have a dutch oven, it’s worth the investment. It’s perfect for long, slow cooking like chili and stews. I make all of my soups in my dutch oven. While we are on the topic of equipment, you’ll need an immersion blender. Don’t have one? Here’s one I recommend!
Layering the smokiness
The first step to this chowder is crisping bacon. I slice 8 slices of center cut bacon into little strips, throw it all in the dutch oven, and cook until crisp. This renders that fat leaving a nice smoky base and it cooks the bacon which is a great garnish for this.
You need to remove the bacon instead of just mixing it in so it doesn’t burn or worse… get soggy. After the bacon is removed, you’re going to cook the onions until translucent and add garlic.
Once that’s done cooking, you’ll add the next layer of smokiness--smoked paprika and chili powder. (You’ll also add thyme, but that’s not smoky just delicious)
The smoked paprika and chili powder add a depth to this dish without being overpowering. It helps the bacon achieve the reason it’s there in the first place. Don’t panic when you add the chicken broth and your soup looks like it’ll be red. I panicked. It’s fine. The corn chowder definitely stays yellow. Bring that pot to a boil and add the corn.
Do you really need to cook the corn first then the potatoes separately?
Yeah, it seems like a pain, but it’s important. Corn only takes 5 minutes to cook. That’s it. If you’ve been cooking it longer than that, you’ve been doing it wrong--not sorry. Add all the corn, boil for five minutes, then remove the corn. Bring the pot to a boil again and add the potatoes.
While you are waiting for the potatoes to cook, remove the corn kernels from the cobs. Here’s a tip for removing corn kernels without making a giant mess.
Something I do that might seem strange is that I add the corn cobs back to the corn after I remove the kernels. Why? Corn cobs have so much flavor and add extra corny goodness to the corn chowder. Once the potatoes are fork-tender (think slightly under mashed potato-ready), remove the cobs.
Chunky or Smooth?
I prefer my chowder a little chunky. Once the potatoes are done, I add the corn and mix it all up. I then remove half the corn and potatoes and set it aside. Add the cream cheese and Greek yogurt and blend it all with your handy dandy immersion blender.
Watch that chicken stock become smooth and creamy. Add the reserved corn and potatoes and serve.
I like to top my corn chowder with the crumbled bacon from earlier, a sprinkle of fresh thyme, sometimes a dollop of Greek yogurt for a little tang, and shredded chicken if I have some on hand. My TBD chicken pulls through again and works great with this recipe. Again, this recipe is only 4 WW SP for 2 cups of pure summer gold.
Looking for another way to use summer's best vegetable? Try my elote!
Dwardcooks Corn Chowder
- immersion blender
- 8 ears corn
- 8 slices center cut bacon sliced into small pieces
- 2 lbs yellow potatoes cubed into bite size pieces
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 8 cups fat free chicken broth
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 2 oz reduced fat cream cheese
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme use 1 tbsp if dried
- Add sliced bacon into the pot and cook until crispy. Remove bacon, but leave the bacon fat.
- Cook diced onions in bacon fat until translucent. Once cooked, add garlic, paprika, thyme, and chili powder. Cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add chicken broth and bring to a boil
- Add corn into the boiling pot. Break the corn in half is needed to make it all fit. Boil for five minutes and remove.
- Add cubed potatoes and boil until fork tender. While the potatoes cook, remove corn from the cobs and place corn in a bowl. Add the cobs back into the pot until potatoes are done.
- Remove corn cobs from the pot when potatoes are fork tender. Add corn kernels.
- If you are keeping the chowder chunky, remove half of the corn and potatoes. If you like it smooth, keep it all in.
- Add greek yogurt and cream cheese into the pot and blend until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper to personal preference. I used no salt chicken broth and added about 2-3 tablespoons of kosher salt + 1 tbsp of pepper.
- Top with bacon and serve.
- Additional recommended additions: shredded chicken, sliced scallions, fresh thyme, shredded cheddar, or a dollop of greek yogurt.