Usually when I think of chowder, I think of the fall and winter seasons. It seems crazy to write about chowder when it’s close to 90 degrees outside, but this is a perfect chowder for warm weather. Sure, it’s served warm, which is hard to fathom in the warmer months, but it’s such a light chowder. This is one dish that won’t weigh you down at all. It’s filled to the brim with corn and zucchini, which makes me happy. It’s not quite vegetarian (there’s bacon in it), but the bacon can easily be eliminated. I loved this chowder so much that I regretted not making a double-batch of it.
I say this almost every column, but if there’s one thing I want folks to take away from reading my column, it’s that recipes are simply loose guidelines for you. This particular recipe can easily be reworked with other ingredients you enjoy. For instance, you can remove the bacon and add mushrooms, if you like. Instead of using water, you could use chicken or veggie broth, which I highly recommend. You could even try sweet potatoes in this chowder instead of russet potatoes. Seriously, the chowder can be customized to your preferences. That’s the beauty of recipes, especially for soups and chowders in general: You can make them your own. I may even throw some shrimp in it the next time I make it. Let’s get cooking—and be sure to scroll down to the end of the recipe for a couple of notes.
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 strips bacon, chopped
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 1/3 cup celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup carrot, peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled, diced into ½-inch cubes
- 4 cups water (or broth)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 15 oz bag of frozen corn, thawed
- 1 medium zucchini, diced into ½-inch cubes
- 1 cup half and half
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Season salt, optional
- Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
- Cayenne pepper, to serve, optional
In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add the bacon and let the fat render. Cook about three or four minutes.
Next, add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and thyme. Cook until the veggies begin to soften, about five minutes.
Add in the potatoes, water (or broth) and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat and let it be for 10 minutes. The potatoes shouldn’t be completely cooked through.
Add the zucchini and corn, then continue boiling for another 10–12 minutes; discard the bay leaf.
Take about 2 cups of the chowder and transfer it to a blender or food processor; purée until it’s smooth, then add the puréed chowder back to the pot.
Add the half and half and cook until it’s heated all the way through. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
If using water as your liquid, I’d be sure to season your chowder at almost every step—not to overseason or make it too salty, but to ensure that every layer has a bit of flavor. As you know, water has no flavor, so the other elements need to be seasoned well.
Don’t skip the blender/food processor step. This helps give the chowder texture.
If fresh corn is available, you’ll want to use about three or four ears. If not, frozen corn will work just fine.
Shawanda Mason is the creator and blogger of Eat.Drink.Frolic. For recipe questions or to chat about eating, drinking or frolicking, she can be reached at [email protected] or by following her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
Updated @ 11:15 a.m. on 9/20/17 to correct a typographical error.