When chowder is on the menu, you know you’re in for a hearty, robust and filling meal. It goes without saying that the dish should be creamy, it absolutely has to be chunky and when chowder is made with fresh ingredients, no other comfort-meal comes close for flavorful satisfaction. Sadly, I’ve had chowder that was disappointing and I’m sure you have too. But when someone gets it right, the experience is unforgettable. I still remember THE best clam chowder I ever had at a little place in Astoria, Oregon many, many years ago (super-fresh tender clams, buttery-chunky red potatoes and perfectly seasoned, creamy but not too heavy soup broth with fresh herbs). My mind’s-eye goes to the exact moment when I took that first bite… I was blown away because I’d never tasted anything like it before that moment – nor since, for that matter. Cook’s note: I’m also on a quest to serve up one incredible clam chowder recipe, so stay tuned.
There are three basic kinds of chowder – fish or seafood; ever-popular clam, of course; and corn, which is featured here with a bit of a twist. End-of-summer squash plus sweet and crunchy corn are headlined in this recipe of Corn Chowder with Summer Squash. I used whole milk in the recipe, and you can substitute cream for half of the milk if you want, which is actually the true chowder base. The secret to this excellent corn chowder is this; puree some of the corn with half of the milk at the end of simmering for a deeply flavorful and thick base. And don’t forget the best-ever toppings for the table – crispy bacon, chopped scallions and sharp cheddar cheese. This is truly a complete meal on its own, but why not pair it with hot-out-of-the-oven bread (or maybe some incredible Cheese Bombs?) and a light tossed salad for a truly complex experience.
Even though summer squash makes you think it’s only available in the summer, I have no problem finding it all year round. If you ever can’t find summer squash, just increase the red potatoes in the recipe and it will still be fantastic. Also, I’ve made this with frozen corn as well as fresh and find no taste difference either way. Just buy good-quality frozen corn.
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled. Reserve approximately 1 Tablespoon rendered bacon fat
- 1 cup sliced green onions, divided
- 1/2 cup sliced celery, slice fairly thin
- 2 medium yellow squash, chopped (about 1 pound)
- 1 large red potato, diced into 3/4-inch cubes
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 1/4 cups milk, divided
- 4 cups fresh cut corn, from about 5-6 cobs, or 1 pound, divided (May use frozen or canned but fresh, uncooked on the cob is fabulous)
- 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried
- 1 teaspoon salt then more to taste if desired
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese for serving (try sharp cheddar)
- Special equipment
- Dutch oven
- Heat 1 Tablespoon reserved bacon fat in a dutch oven or very large saute' pan over medium-high heat.
- Add 3/4 cup of the green onions, the celery, squash and potato. Saute until tender, about 8 minutes, adding in garlic during last 30 seconds of sauteing. Reduce heat to medium-low heat.
- Add 1 3/4 cups milk, 1 1/2 cups of the corn, thyme, salt and pepper to the sauteed veggies. Let this heat over low simmer.
- To a blender add remaining 2 1/2 cups of corn, remaining 1 1/2 cups milk. Process in blender until nearly smooth (about 30 seconds). Add pureed mixture to the pot of other ingredients and stir to blend.
- Cook until heated through. If using fresh corn from the cob, continue to heat up to 10 minutes to allow the blended corn to soften. Simmer only, don't boil. Serve warm with shredded cheese, crumbled bacon and remaining sliced green onions.
- Cook's Note: One option that takes a little more time but is worth it is to first saute' the summer squash in a tiny bit of butter on medioum-high heat in a small sauce pan, letting it get just browned but not soft before adding into the pot with the other vegetables.