This is one of my favourite corn chowders adapted from a summer sweet corn soup recipe I used to make for the kids when they were little. They couldn’t get enough of it! I use frozen mini corn cobs and after cooking and removing the kernels, I throw the cobs back in the pot to make a corn broth for the soup.
1 kg (2.2 lb) frozen mini corn cobs 4 rashers middle bacon, rind removed and chopped 1 large onion, peeled and chopped 2 stalks celery, chopped 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 1 tsp thyme 1 Tbsp butter 2 medium (400g / 14 oz) floury potatoes, peeled and cubed 750ml (about 1½ pints) milk 375ml (about 12 fl oz) cooking water from corn cobs 1 tsp salt, or to taste Freshly ground black pepper to taste Chopped parsley, snipped chives or chopped coriander (cilantro) for sprinkling Finely grated zest 1 lime, optional Chilli flakes, optional Hot buttered toast or garlic bread to serve
1 Plunge corn cobs into a saucepan of boiling water, cover pan with a lid and quickly bring back to the boil. Cook gently for 7-10 minutes, partially covered with the lid, until tender. Scoop the corn cobs out of the water and cool them on a board; reserve cooking water in the saucepan. Shave the corn from the cobs as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Return the cobs to the corn cooking water in the pan and reduce the liquid over a high heat for 15-20 minutes.
2 Put the bacon, onion, celery, garlic, thyme and butter in a medium-large sized saucepan. Cover with a lid and cook very gently for 10-12 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until very tender. Add potatoes, milk and corn cooking water; reserve the rest of the cooking water in case you need to thin the soup. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle boil. Cook gently, partially covered with a lid, for 30 minutes.
3 Add corn kernels to soup. Mash soup with a potato masher, squashing the potato to a purée so it thickens the soup, and crushing some of the corn to release flavour and colour. Cook for 20-30 minutes, mashing with the potato masher from time to time and stirring the soup so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pot.
4 The soup should be wonderfully thick and creamy. If it is too thick, add a little of the corn cooking water. Check for seasoning and swirl through chopped herbs, reserving some for the top. Dish soup into bowls and serve piping hot with a little lime zest, freshly ground black pepper or chilli flakes and hot buttered toast or garlic bread.
Everything in life doesn’t have to be pepped up with chilli, but if you like it, chilli flakes on the top of this soup adds a fresh bite. A teaspoon of smoked paprika added along with the thyme deepens the smoky flavour from bacon. If the lid on your pan won’t stay propped up, lay a wooden spoon across the top of the pan and rest the lid on it; if the pan is covered, the milk will froth up and overflow.
The soup can be made a day or two ahead; keep covered and refrigerated.