Well I am finally back. Both physically and mentally. As you probably know, I took a 10 day (very) much-needed post-Bar trip to Texas. I attended one of my favorite sorority sister’s wedding; drove over 1000 miles between DFW, Austin, Houston and various places in between; ate my body weight in salsa, queso, tortilla chips, tacos, BBQ and Blue Bell Ice Cream; continued the 100 year celebration by trying every imaginable incarnation of Shiner; in sum, I basically decompressed from the Stress of the past 3 years and specifically the past 2 months. It was just what I needed. But even as I was enjoying sleeping in to 8:30 AM [yes, 8:30 is now sleeping in for me; I am officially OLD] I was somewhat anxious to get back home to Chicago. I have missed 10 days of the farmer’s markets and I don’t know which fruit slowly slipped out of season or if Nichol’s has started to fill their yellow tubs which every type of little tomato imaginable. Needless to say, I am ready to get back into my summer routine. Thankfully this half will be without the added bonus of 28 pounds of blue BarBri books but rather a large stack of library books (including New Moon, Garlic and Sapphire, The Girl She Used to Be and much more).
When I left for my refreshing week+ in Texas, sweet corn was just hitting the markets and I was excited to start making endless batches of this perfect corn chowder. I must have made this soup more than 5 times last summer after discovering it on one of my favorite sites back when I was only reading blogs and not writing my own. The chowder comes together quickly but still is complex from the use of a bunch of different wonderful spices.
It is perfect to pair with a salad filled with whatever is fresh and delicious at the market. Make a double batch and freeze the leftovers it for a quick dinner during the week. Or tuck one away in the back to pull out in November when the sweet corn has sadly left until the next year to come.
4 ounces of bacon (or more if you like to eat a few while you are cooking)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 celery ribs, diced
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt (or Kosher if that is what you have)
1/4 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
4 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
4 tablespoons flour
4 cups chicken stock (low-sodium or homemade)
2 cups water
4 ears of corn, kernels shaved from the cob and one or two shaved cobs reserved
Greek yogurt, for garnish
finely diced chives, for garnish
Fry the bacon in the bottom of a large soup pot, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon to a cookie rack set over a paper towel and set aside. Drain the bacon drippings from the pot (save in a jar to stash in the fridge), but do not wipe out the pot. Return the pot to the stove, turn the heat up to medium high and heat the olive oil in the pot. Add the onion, celery and herbs (through the black pepper). Stir to coat the vegetables with the oil and herbs and cook until the onions have become translucent and soft (several minutes). Add the potatoes and cook for five minutes, until the potatoes have begun to soften. Turn the heat down to low and sprinkle the flour over the vegetables. Stir and cook for several minutes.
Add the chicken stock and water. Crumble the bacon and add all but 1 tablespoon to the soup. Next, stir in the corn kernels. Finally, add the reserved, shaved cob of corn to the soup (which will help flavor and thicken the broth). Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.
Before serving, remove the shaved corn cob and taste the soup for seasoning. Add more salt if necessary. Serve the soup with a dollop of Greek yogurt, snipped chives and the reserved crumbled bacon.