Recipe for smoky corn chowder
All New Englanders are predisposed to love chowder. It's in our DNA. But not all New Englanders like the same chowder. Bostonians will argue that the only true chowder is white clam chowder, rich with potatoes and cream. Rhode Island folks lobby for their local "clear" quahog chowder. And some eschew clams altogether, in favor of sweet kernels of corn. Our season for fresh corn lasts only from early July to early September; during the rest of the year, we rely on good-quality frozen organic corn, which doesn't need to be defrosted before you add it to the soup pot.
Smoky corn chowder
Adapted from a recipe in Real Simple: Easy, Delicious Meals (2009). Serves 6.
8 oz sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large leek, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (sweet or hot)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
15 oz frozen corn
3 cups low-sodium homemade or store-bought chicken broth
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup skim (nonfat) milk
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish
In a Dutch oven or large sauce pan, cook the bacon over low heat until it's crisp, but not burned. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings. Add the leek and cook, stirring frequently, until soft but not yet brown.
Add the garlic, paprika and cayenne, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the corn, broth, half-and-half and milk. Raise heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the soup is just beginning to boil. Remove from heat.
If you like your chowder thicker, use an immersion blender to puree half of the soup. Add the bacon back into the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot, garnished with scallions.