Sweet Corn Chowder with Yukon Gold Potatoes & Pancetta

I do a good amount of travel for work. It’s not out of control, but during this time of year, I take a trip every 2-3 weeks at least, sometimes more often. And I enjoy it. I like to see different places, get a feel for different areas of the country. Through my work travels, I definitely have. Another thing that I enjoy is having the chance to try regional foods. Sometimes, it’s hard to get outside of the chain restaurants or airport food courts, but when I’m lucky, I get to try some real local treats.

On my last visit to Nebraska (I know, exotic, right?) we had lunch in a small-town diner. From the outside, it was nothing special. And the menu was, for the most part, exactly what you’d expect. Even so, the food was tasty and the service was good. My main dish was a baked macaroni and cheese that was quite good, but the highlight for me was the corn chowder. I had never in my life eaten corn chowder before, and I could tell by their curious glances and raised eyebrows that neither had my two coworkers. But when the person we were meeting with suggested it, we were convinced, and all three of us ordered the corn chowder.

And were rewarded.

The soup was creamy, with chunks of potato, chicken, and of course, sweet corn. We’ve joked about having that soup again, even around the office (some 500 miles away from the diner where we shared lunch) ever since. Finally, tired of thinking about a soup that I may never have the chance to eat again, I decided to make my own. Last Friday was a cool, rainy day, and sweet corn was on sale for the first time all season. It seemed like a sign. So for dinner Friday night, I threw together my version of this awesome Nebraskan soup. And it was delicious. If I was trying to convince my sister or mother, I’d tell them it was just like clam chowder. When I was trying to convince my husband, I told him it was just like potato soup. And while both of those statements were true, it tastes more like corn than either of those. If you like corn, you owe it to yourself to try this soup.

corn-chowder

Sweet Corn Chowder with Yukon Gold Potatoes & Pancetta

  • 3 ounces pancetta (You can substitute bacon, if necessary)
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups prepared chicken stock
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1.5 pounds yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 5-6 ears sweet corn (do not substitute cans or frozen corn–fresh off the cob is important!)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook until crisped. Next, add the onion, garlic, and thyme and continue cooking until softened, about 8 or 9 minutes.

2. Sprinkle the flour into the pan, stirring to coat everything evenly. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir in the cream and the potatoes, bring to a boil for 7 minutes, until the potatoes begin to break down. The potatoes should be soft, but not completely broken down.

3. Cut the corn kernels off the cob and add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer until the corn is soft, about 10 more minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve.

Note: If you’ve never cut corn off of the cob, here’s a good tip. Take a small bowl (like a cereal bowl) and stand it upside down in a large mixing bowl. Shuck the corn and remove any additional silk. Stand the ear of corn straight up on the small bowl (inside the larger bowl) and use a sharp knife to cut straight down once side. Turn the ear of corn, and cut straight down the next side, working your way around the corn. This will give you a steady platform for cutting the corn off the cob, while catching all of the loose corn kernels in the larger bowl without making a mess.

As far as the soup goes, I think it was a hit. It was flavorful, sweet and fresh, just like corn on the cob. I don’t think it would have been anywhere near as good if I had tried to use canned or frozen corn. The pancetta added a nice layer of salty flavor to the soup base, and the potatoes were good, but the corn was really the star of this soup. I’m sure we’ll be making this again. It would have been good with leftover chicken, regular bacon, or a smoky ham also.

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5 Responses to “Sweet Corn Chowder with Yukon Gold Potatoes & Pancetta”

  1. Test Subject #2

    This soup was absolutely phenomenal. The consistency of a creamy potato soup with the sweet taste of corn! Corn is the flavor I look forward to most every summer. :-)

  2. Ysobel

    That picture is just perfect I want to gobble up that soup!

  3. Mom

    Okay, you have convinced me I will try it but don’t slip in any veggies

  4. Teri

    @Test Subject #2
    I was kind of sad to eat the last of the soup for lunch yesterday, because it means that there isn’t any more!

    @Ysobel
    I don’t think the picture does it justice. It was very good.

    @Mom
    I’ll have to make it for you guys once we get our hands on some really good corn this summer.

  5. Mom

    Unless of course Grandma finds some more good corn, lol

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