Sweet Corn and Chicken Chowder

It’s officially fall, my favorite time of year for cooking.  As much as I love summer with all of its fresh fruits and veggies from farmers’ markets and all the variety of things that are actually in season, come fall I’m actually in the mood to hunker down and spend an afternoon in the kitchen.  And usually, there are still plenty of good in season things to eat, even as the temperatures dip and I stop dreading turning on the stove.    Something about that first crisp, fresh fall breeze makes me want to head inside and start cooking.

But this sweet corn that I found posed a bit of a dilemma- it’s so good that it almost seems a shame to cook it.  Even raw it is sweet, tender, and just a little crisp- almost like biting into an apple.  I saw it and began craving corn chowder, but then I tasted it and ear and couldn’t decide if I could bring myself to cook it up and douse it in creamy broth.  So this recipe is the best variation of my old stand-by I could come up with. It’s warm, filling, and rich, without taking anything away from the delicious sweet corn.  The key is keeping it simple, and adding the sweet corn at the very end so that you don’t overcook it.  That’s it.  This is a variation of how I usually make corn chowder with regular corn (either fresh of frozen), so I can tell with some certainty that it’s really tasty, even if you can’t manage to find good sweet corn near you.

A few little things: I used leftover roasted bone-in chicken breasts for this, but you could use poached, shredded chicken if you want, or one of those rotisserie chickens from the store.  Obviously, using roasted chicken will have a bit more flavor than poached, but it’ll still taste good.  Or you could leave the chicken out all together for a vegetarian chowder.  It’s really all about the corn, anyway…

Sweet Corn and Chicken Chowder

4 ears of sweet corn, corn cut off the ear (or about 4 cups of corn kernels)

4 TB butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 TB flour

1 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 tsp minced fresh thyme

1 quart chicken stock

2 cups shredded chicken

1 cup half and half (milk or heavy cream would also be fine)

In a large pot, melt butter, then add in chopped onions.  Sweat the onions until they are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Then add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.  Continue stirring while slowly adding in the chicken stock.  (Slowly is importantly, because at first the flour will thicken up a lot, but just keep adding the stock in a little bit at a time so you don’t get flour lumps!)  Add the salt, pepper, and thyme to the stock and simmer for at least 10 minutes.

Stir in the chicken, sweet corn, and half and half, then continue simmering for a few more minutes (but preferably not too long, as you don’t want to overcook your delicious sweet corn! If you’re using frozen corn, you can let it simmer for a little longer.) Season to taste with salt and pepper, if necessary, and serve.

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