Corn Chowder

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: About 1 hour

This chowder celebrates the bounty of a single summertime crop—corn. And since you will probably make it only once or twice a year, I would opt for the richer half-and-half option, though the leaner version has a purity of flavor I also love.

Kernels from 6 ears fresh corn, cobs reserved

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

1/2 cup chopped scallion

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 quart milk or half-and-half

Corn Bread Croutons for garnish (optional)

01 Put the corn cobs and 2 cups water in a pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the water bubbles gently, cover, and cook, checking occasionally, for about 30 minutes. Leave the cobs in the pot until you’re ready to make the soup, then remove them and save the broth.

02 Put the butter or oil in a deep skillet or medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the scallion and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the scallion is soft, about 1 minute. Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly with a whisk or a wooden spoon, until the mixture starts to turn golden and the flour no longer smells raw, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the milk and the reserved broth and turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir or whisk constantly until the flour is dissolved and the soup starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.

03 Stir in the corn kernels and bring to a boil, then lower the heat so that the soup bubbles gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is tender and the soup has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning, garnish, and serve.

Variations

Thicker Corn Chowder. Peel 1 large baking potato and cut into small (1/2-inch) dice. Add the potato to the pot along with the corn in Step 3. After bringing the soup to a boil, cook covered, instead of uncovered, stirring occasionally. Proceed with the recipe.

Roasted Corn Chowder. Heat the oven to 400В°F. Rub a little extra virgin olive oil over each husked corn cob before slicing off the kernels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and put on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the corn, turning frequently, until the kernels start to brown, 15 to 25 minutes. When the corn is cool enough to handle, shuck the kernels (see Preparing Corn) and follow the recipe from the beginning of Step 1.

Corn Chowder with Tomatoes. Canned tomatoes work just fine here. Coarsely chop 3 roma (plum) tomatoes. (If you’re using fresh, you may peel and seed them first, but it’s not necessary.) In Step 3, add them to the pot with the corn and proceed with the recipe.

Cheesy Corn Chowder. Prepare either the main recipe or one of the variations through Step 2. In Step 3, along with the corn, add 1/2 cup grated cheese, like Parmesan, sharp cheddar, or hard goat cheese. Proceed with the recipe.