Corn Chowder

Corn is the hot item in the summer, and a corn chowder is oh-so-satisfying and comforting. Pair this with some grilled shrimp or chicken and a side salad for a well-balanced meal. You can always substitute the heavy cream for low-fat milk to reduce the fat and calories; however, it will not be as thick. Enjoy!

5 corn ears, husked
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
1 Parmesan rind (2 to 3 inches wide)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 bacon slices
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch cubes (2 to 3 small potatoes)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 scallions, thinly sliced, green tops separated from the white bottoms
1 cup heavy cream

Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice the kernels off the corn, reserving the cobs. Set the corn kernels aside, about 3 1/3 cups. Add the cobs to a large pot, along with the thyme, bay leaves, Parmesan rind and smoked paprika. Add 6 cups of water to the pot and set it over high heat. When the water just begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and gently simmer the corn stock for 1 hour. After an hour, strain the stock using a fine-mesh strainer, then set the corn stock aside. You can prep the corn stock up to 3 days ahead of time, making sure to store the stock and the corn kernels in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.

Add the bacon to a large pot. Set the heat to medium-low and slowly crisp the bacon, turning it and flipping it every few minutes with tongs. After 10 to 15 minutes, the bacon should be crispy and fully rendered. Turn off the heat and remove the bacon from the pot, but leave the rendered bacon fat. When the bacon is cool enough to handle, crumble it into tiny pieces.

Add the butter and onion to the pot and adjust the heat to medium. Cook the onion for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it just begins to caramelize. Add the garlic and chili powder and cook for 1 minute, stirring regularly. Next, add the corn kernels and diced potatoes. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring regularly, until the corn begins to deepen in color. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and a few cracks of freshly ground black pepper. Add the scallion bottoms along with the corn stock, and stir gently to combine. Turn the heat to high, and when the liquid just begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook at a gentle simmer for 35 minutes.

After the soup has simmered for 35 minutes, the potatoes should be very tender. Turn off the heat and stir in the heavy cream. Ladle half of the soup into a blender and blend on high until very smooth. Return the pureed soup to the pot, along with the sliced green scallion tops. Stir to combine. Taste the soup, and adjust with more salt as necessary. To serve, garnish each serving with some crumbled bacon. Makes four servings.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Calories: 436; Total Fat: 31g; Total Carb: 33g; Fiber: 2.5g; Sugar: 8g; Protein 7g

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