Corn chowder has been on my summertime to-make list since those first green-husked beauties showed up at the greenmarket in mid-July. But the corn has been so sweet and tender this year that we couldn’t stop eating it straight-up — on the cob, simply steamed and slathered in butter — and chowder never had a chance.
Finally last week the four ears we brought home on Sunday were still in the crisper on Thursday. Hidden under an avalanche of greens and bell peppers and zucchini, I had completely forgotten about them. Chowder time.
This chowder has a super-flavorful base of sweet corn broth, made from the corn cobs after slicing off the kernels, along with coconut milk, which gives a creamy, luscious texture and a hint of tropical goodness. A pinch of crushed red chile infuses the chowder with gentle heat, and smoked Spanish paprika brings mellow smokiness and added depth of flavor. Studded with tender chunks of potato, red bell pepper, and chickpeas, and of course plenty of sweet corn kernels, this is definitely hearty enough to be a one-bowl meal. Served in smaller portions it would make a nice starter, too.
Did I mention we dove into this pot of creamy corn goodness when it was 90+ degrees out? Yeah – there aren’t many hot soups I find appealing during summer, but somehow corn chowder breaks the rules. After all, even summer needs comfort food. There’s really only one thing that could possibly improve this situation: toast a few slices of real sourdough bread, slather them with good butter (we’re hooked on Kerrygold around here), and serve them alongside for lots of crunchy dipping and swirling.
Smoky coconut sweet corn chowder
Serves 4 to 6
The chowder is delicious right after it’s made, and even better the next day (and the day after that), so it’s perfect as a make-ahead meal or for batch cooking. Leftovers also freeze well.
4 large ears of sweet corn, husks removed
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
pinch crushed red chile
One 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
1 medium potato, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup cooked chickpeas (or canned, drained and rinsed)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Slice kernels from ears of corn (yield should be about 3 cups of kernels) and reserve. Snap cobs in half and place in a soup pot with 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, partially covered. Strain and reserve broth (there should be about 4 cups). Discard cobs.
Rinse and dry soup pot. Place over medium heat and add coconut oil. Add onion, garlic, smoked paprika, pinch of chile flakes, and a pinch of salt. Saute until onion is starting to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add reserved corn broth, coconut milk, potato, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until potato is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Add bell pepper and chickpeas, and simmer 5 minutes more. Add reserved corn kernels and simmer for another 5 minutes, until corn is tender. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Serve chowder in warmed bowls garnished with parsley and chives.