Between standing in line to cast our votes and walking the pup at the park near our home, we spent hours outdoors in the blistering cold wind yesterday. So, soup was an easy decision for dinner. I can’t resist adding a bit of heat to most my dishes (40 degree wind chill not needed) and this corn chowder is no exception. Feel free to skip the chili, if you must, but I encourage you to go ahead and spice things up, as you’ll be glad you did!
5 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
1 poblano chili, trimmed and diced, top reserved
5 stalks celery, diced, tops reserved
2 large carrots, diced, tops reserved
3 cloves garlic, skin removed, left whole
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
4 slices thick cut bacon, diced
6 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup potato flakes
4 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnishes: sour cream, sliced scallions, crispy bacon, red pepper flakes, chopped fresh spinach
Heat a large Dutch Oven over high flame. Add in the diced bacon and fry until golden and crispy, about 8 minutes. Remove the bacon and rest on paper towels. Also remove all but 1 tsp of the rendered bacon. Set the excess rendered bacon aside, covered, for later use.
To the hot bacon fat, add the ears of corn and gently sear on all sides. Add next the poblano, celery, and carrot tops then the 6 cups of stock. Bring up to a boil, add the bay leaf and whole garlic, then reduce to a simmer. Continue simmering the chowder stock for at least 30 minutes and up to a couple hours. Remove the corn from the stock and set aside on a clean surface to cool. Continue cleaning the stock by removing the bay leaves, rosemary sprig, carrot and celery tops. Discard. Leave in the whole garlic gloves, if desired.
Once the corn has cooled enough to handle, remove the kernels from the cob and set the kernels aside. Add the cobs back to the stock along with the diced celery, poblano, carrots, and potato. Bring the stock back up to a soft boil and continue cooking until the potato and vegetables are very tender, 20 – 30 minutes more. If desired, add the 1/4 cup of potato flakes to further thicken the stock. Once the chowder has thickened, turn off the flame, remove and discard the cobs, then add in the corn kernels. Taste again and adjust seasonings as needed.
To finish, ladle the chowder into bowls and top with a generous dollop of sour cream, sliced scallions, red pepper flakes, chopped spinach, and the crispy diced bacon. Serve immediately.