Corn Chowder with Variations

Main Course
Soups & Stews

Recipe courtesy of James McNair's Favorites by James McNair

Serves 6

  • About 8 medium-sized ears corn, or 4 cups thawed frozen or drained canned corn kernels 
  • 6 ounces salt pork, trimmed of rind and cut into small cubes, or 6 thick slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 tablespoons canola or other high­-quality vegetable oil, if using salt pork 
  • ½ cups finely chopped leek, including pale green portion
  • 2 cups finely chopped yellow or white onion 
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 4 cups vegetable or reduced-sodium chicken broth 
  • 4 cups diced or sliced peeled boiling potatoes (about 2 pounds) 
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons crumbled dried thyme 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream, light cream, or half-and-half 
  • Salt 
  • Freshly ground black or white pepper 
  • Ground cayenne or other dried hot chile or hot sauce
  • fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish

McNair's Corn Chowder with Seafood Variations

McNair's Corn Chowder with Seafood Variations

Click image to enlarge



From the Chef:

Although this all-American favorite is best made with fresh com, drained canned or thawed frozen com kernels make an acceptable chowder. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels from the cob, transfer half to a blender, and purée until smooth. Add to remaining corn and set aside.

If using salt pork, combine the pork and enough water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 5 minutes to remove excess salt; drain. In a soup pot or large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat, add the salt pork, and cook until browned.

If using bacon, in a soup pot or large saucepan, cook over medium-high heat until crisp.

Add the leek and onion to the salt pork or bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Add the stock or broth, potatoes, minced or crumbled thyme·, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to achieve a simmer, cover partially, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir the reserved corn into the soup and simmer for about 3 minutes. Stir in the cream or half and half and season to taste with salt, pepper, and chile or hot sauce. Simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes longer; do not allow to come to a boil. (At this poing, the soup can be cooled completely, then covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Slowly reheat before serving.)

To serve, ladle the hot soup into warmed bowls and garnish with thyme springs.

Seafood Variation:

Substitute fish stock or battled clam juice for the chicken or stock or broth. When adding the cream, stir in about 3 cups of one or a mixture of the following: shucked raw small oysters, shucked steamed clams or mussels, raw small scallops or peeled shrimp, cooked crab or lobster meat, chopped smoked fish, or bite-sized chunks of firm fish fillets such a halibut, cod, or salmon.


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