Summer Squash and Corn Chowder

It’s day two of “Mostly Vegetarian Week.”  You’ll notice that tonight’s offering has bacon in it, thus the “mostly” qualifier, but you could leave that out for a truly vegetarian dish.  Soup probably seems like an odd choice in the July heat, but the more options I have for cooking squash the better.  This is a good option.  And with a few tweaks I think it could be really good.  I also think this will be the perfect use of the summer squash and corn that I’ll vacuum pack and freeze.  It will be a nice nod to Summer in the dreary days of Winter.

I followed the recipe almost exactly.  I made this in my large cast iron skillet rather than a Dutch oven just because I always fry my bacon in that skillet and dirtying another pan seemed silly.  I left out the celery because that didn’t sound like it would be good.  I only used about 1 1/2 cups of milk.  I think that’s enough.  Corn is pretty milky too.  I used fresh corn instead of frozen.  It tastes amazing and the kernels have a much better texture than frozen.  Of course it’s a lot more trouble too.  You have to silk it very thoroughly so you don’t have stray silks in your chowder.  And if you’ve never cut corn off of the cob I offer you this advice.  Put one end of the corn in a large shallow bowl and hold the other end.  The shallow bowl will allow you to cut all the way to the bottom of the cob and will keep the kernels from flying all over the counter.  Also be careful not to cut too deep.  If you do you’ll have little hard pieces of cob in your dish.  The last recipe adjustment that I made was to saute the whole kernels with the other vegetables for a few minutes.  It just adds a nice flavor.

Now for the suggested improvements.  The recipe calls for thyme.  Honestly the earthiness of the thyme is a little overwhelming and not entirely pleasant.  Next time I’ll leave it out.  For the leftover chowder from this recipe I’ll add a little additional salt and maybe a tad of smoked paprika.  The next time I make this I think I’ll include some green chiles or roasted poblanos.

The preparation goes pretty quickly.  I quartered each squash before chopping it into 1/2 inch pieces so it was chunky.  That helped it maintain a little firmness.  Green onions chop up in a flash.  The corn took a little while, but obviously using frozen would speed things up immensely.  It’s a little annoying to dirty the blender, but it really is the best way.

This is a sweet chowder.  The squash is sweet.  The corn is sweet.  The green onions are a really nice change from regular onions.  They add a bright, green element.  You’ll want to add a relatively generous amount of salt, especially if you decide to forego the bacon.  I recommend an extra sharp cheddar for a little depth of flavor.  A sharp white cheddar might be nice.  The original recipe indicates that the cheese and bacon are for “kid appeal,” but I think you’ll want at least one of those elements for flavor balance.  Overall this is a good and filling soup.  Try it alongside a fresh tomato and bacon sandwich.  Yum!

Good? Yes.  Solidly good.
Easy? Yes.
Good for company? With some tweaks, I think so.
Special shopping? Nope.

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder

Ingredients

2 slices applewood-smoked bacon
3/4 cup sliced green onions, divided
3 medium yellow summer squash, chopped
3 ears white corn kernels, divided
1 1/2 cups milk, divided
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

Preparation

1. Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan. Crumble bacon, and set aside. Add 1/2 cup onions and squash to drippings in pan; sauté 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
2. Reserve 1 cup corn; set aside. Place the remaining corn and 1 cup milk in a blender; process until smooth. Add remaining 1/2 cups milk, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to blender; process just until combined.
3. Add remaining corn to the pan with the other vegetables. Saute 2-3 minutes.
4. Add pureed mixture to pan. Reduce heat to medium; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon salt. Ladle about 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 1 tablespoon bacon, 1 tablespoon remaining onions, and 1 tablespoon cheese.

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