I first made this amazing corn chowder last summer, and it was an instant hit in our house. I started with Ina Garten’s popular Cheddar Corn Chowder, creating a vegetarian version that, I think, more than rivals her recipe. Hers starts with lots of bacon and uses chicken broth. Mine subs vegetable stock, and I provide big crispy pieces of peppered bacon at the end to make the meat-eaters happy. They just sprinkle it over the top of their individual bowls of otherwise vegetarian corn chowder.
Us vegetarians hardly get the short end of the stick, though, especially when this hearty soup is made at the peak of corn season. Sweet, juicy corn, cut right off the cob. Tangy, melty cheddar cheese. Buttery Yukon Gold potatoes. Yeah, I’m saying it: yum.
I served this on Christmas last year (using frozen corn). My brother-in-law, an enthusiastic carnivore, couldn’t have cared less about the big ham on the table. He was all about seconds (and thirds) of this chowder.
I’d say that’s a pretty big win.
Cheddar Corn Chowder with Optional Bacon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 4 cups medium-diced yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds (I like them unpeeled, but you can peel them if you like))
- 5 cups corn kernels (fresh (kernels cut from about 5 ears) or frozen)
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 10 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese (shredded (about 2 1/2 cups))
- 4 slices bacon (cooked and diced (optional))
- Other toppings like additional grated cheddar cheese (sliced scallions or chives, or fresh dill sprigs)
- In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil and butter until butter has melted. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add the flour, salt, pepper and turmeric. Stir constantly for three minutes.
- Add the vegetable broth and stir well. Add the potatoes. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, then reduce to low. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the corn and cook for about five more minute until the corn is heated through and the consistency of the soup has thickened slightly.
- Transfer half of the soup (about five cups) to a large bowl and let cool. Puree in a blender or using an immersion blender. Add puree back to the soup pot and return to a simmer.
- Stir in the half-and-half and the cheese, then cook for about five more minutes.
- Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
- Ladle into bowls and top with bacon pieces, if using, and other optional toppings.