If you think gazpacho is the only soup you can have in mid-summer, ladies and gents, this chowder is going to change your mind. The sweetness of fresh summer Jersey corn is a perfect counter-balance to the richness of the cream and the starchiness of the potatoes. For this recipe, I traveled into Morris County to obtain fresh veggies from Pine Brook’s Bader Farms, which has been around since 1892.
1 cup diced carrots
2 diced onions
1 large peeled potato, diced small
Mince 3 cloves garlic
1.5 lbs. corn, either thawed or from 4 ears of fresh sweet corn
4 thick bacon strips
1 cup Half & Half
4 cups chicken stock
1½ tsp. fresh thyme, about 5 large sprigs
Couple squirts of hot sauce
Salt & Pepper
Chopped fresh tomato (optional)
First, prep the veggies. Shuck and de-silk the corn. The easiest way to take the kernels off is to stand the cob up in a big bowl, stump-side down. Using a smaller paring knife, cut down the side of the cob as deep as you can. You know you’ve gone too deep into the cob when it’s hard to run the knife down. Do one side, then twist the cob and cut down the next side. Rinse, repeat. When done, dice the onions and carrots and mince the garlic.
Brown the bacon over medium-low heat to render out most of the fat. When crispy, scoop out the bacon with a slotted spoon, put it on a plate, and try not to eat it. Dump the onions, carrots and garlic into the bacon fat, and cook until the vegetables start sweating and the onions become slightly clear, usually around 10 minutes. Peel and dice the potato while you wait. When the onion mix is ready, add in the chicken stock. If you’re using stock in a large tetrapak, it’s the whole box you want to use – 32 fluid ounces. Bring the stock to a boil, then add in the corn and the diced potatoes as well as some salt and freshly ground pepper.
Boil then simmer this until the potatoes are tender, but not falling apart, about another 10 minutes. In the last few minutes of the simmering period, throw in the fresh chopped thyme. When the potatoes are cooked through, pour in the half & half, and make sure the mixture doesn’t boil – keep it at a gentle simmer until slightly thickened.
You can finish the chowder 2 ways: super-chunky, or puree it into something slightly smoother. If you like chunks, just serve the soup as-is. If you want to go the smoother route, use a blender (or stick blender) to puree a portion of the chowder, then add it back into the main section. You can either add whatever’s left of the bacon into the soup itself, or use it to top individual bowls. The chopped fresh tomatoes can also be used to keep the chowder even lighter.
Enjoy your summer in a bowl!
Megan Myers is an aspiring blogger, cook and “food enthusiast” that has spent all of her years in the awesome Garden State. Her all-encompassing love for all things Jersey has lead to her obsession with eating as locally as possible to give back to the state that has formed her into the person she is today – only in New Jersey could you live close to a mall, but also be 10 minutes away from a cider mill that was built in 1896. She adores all things food, and works for a non-profit food trade association in Northern Jersey. Living in Passaic County, she loves dragging her husband, family and friends to find farmers markets and little-known restaurants alike. Her greatest food weakness? Pork belly. Hands down.