My quick summer dinner of choice is a delicious, filling chowder made with peak-of- the-season corn, basil, a touch of bacon and whatever might be growing in the garden, herb wise. It is my perfect meal while I’m in the great state of Maine on vacation.
Every year, I come up with new variations. You can consider this soup as the base for many chowders to come – it’s the simplest version that I’ve made over the seven to eight years that I’ve been coming to Maine.
This super-easy chowder takes no time to prep or to cook and makes a great lunch if you happen to have any leftovers for the next day. Chowder only gets better with time.
My pantry staples are organic chicken broth, a potato, leeks or onion, bacon, summer corn and garden basil. Feel free to take a look at my suggested stir -ins at the end of this recipe so you can customize the basic version to suit your taste and what’s in your pantry.
The rule of thumb is that a chowder should be a milky, not gluey, soup consisting of veggies and most often, fish. I made a big batch of this version at the beginning of the vacation and transformed the leftovers into a seafood pasta sauce. On another night, I turned it into a sauce for a dish of roasted local cod and halibut with a scallion breadcrumb topping.
So enjoy this late season jewel of corn chowder and don’t forget to use a nice dose of chopped fresh herbs and freshly ground black pepper!
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Corn Bacon and Leek Chowder
Makes about 3 cups to serve two
1 strip bacon
2 slender leeks, white and pale green parts only, chopped, or 1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 medium Yukon gold potato, diced
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup half and half
1 cup chicken broth
2 ears corn, shucked and kernels removed
1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, chives or tarragon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Cook bacon in a large saucepan, over moderate heat, turning, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Add leeks and potato and cook, stirring, until leeks are tender, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook stirring, for 2 minutes.
- Slowly add half and half and broth in a stream, stirring until flour is dissolved. Bring just to simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add corn and cook, stirring, until corn is tender, about 4 minutes.
- Stir in herbs and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
If you like, add any of the following stir ins:
- Drained canned chopped or whole clams such as Bar Harbor brand
- 1/2 cup cooked shrimp, crab or lobster meat
- 1 cup drained and rinsed canned white beans
- Roasted jarred bell peppers, rinsed and chopped
- Chopped jalapeno
- Oyster crackers
- Any type of cooked sausage instead of the bacon
- Russet or new potatoes instead of the Yukon gold, but if using a russet potato, peel it first
- Fish stock or clam juice, such as Bar Harbor brand, instead of the chicken broth, if making a fish version of the chowder
- Whole milk instead of half and half, but be careful not to let it boil as it will separate
- Butter, such as Kate’s from Maine, or olive oil Instead of bacon fat to cook the veggies
- Add the corn cobs after adding the liquids, for more corn flavor; remove before serving
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