Bacon corn chowder eases transition to fall

Gretchen McKay
Chicago Tribune

Corn season is slowly coming to an end, and you might be wondering how to best savor those last few ears of your beloved Silver Queen or Butter and Sugar varieties. Me, too.

Why not a silky corn chowder? It’s so easy, and it stretches a few sweet cobs into a feast for many when you pair it with some really good bread, such as Mediterra Bakehouse’s Sprouted Spelt.

Of course the soup includes bacon, along with a few chopped potatoes for some extra oomph.

I used slightly spicy Santa Fe Grande chile pepper because that’s what I’ve got growing in my garden, but you could easily substitute a sweet pepper or even a jalapeno if you like some heat.

Summer’s End Corn Chowder

PG tested

3 strips bacon, chopped

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)

1/2 hot chili or sweet red pepper, diced

21/2 cups milk, whole or low fat

2 cups half-and-half

4 ears of sweet corn, kernels removed from the cobs, cobs reserved

3 or 4 fingerling potatoes, scrubbed clean and diced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the bacon by placing it in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot and frying it on medium heat until the bacon renders its fat and is crispy, about 4 minutes. Remove bacon, leaving drippings in pan. Set aside to drain on paper-towel-covered plate.

Add the onions and chili pepper to bacon fat, lower the heat to medium low, and cook until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add milk and half-and-half and bring to a simmer. Strip the corn cobs of kernels and set aside. Break the cobs in half and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a very low simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes. Be sure the heat is low, or you will scald the milk on the bottom of the pan.

Add potatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to return the soup to a simmer and cook for chowder another 10 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.

Discard the cobs. Add the corn kernels and more salt and pepper if needed. Cook for another 5 minutes then ladle into bowls. Serve hot with reserved bacon crumbled on top and crusty bread.

Serves 4 to 6.