Corn Chowder

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Corn Chowder
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This is the quintessential one-pot meal. Creamy, smoky, sweet, it's a sure winner. As far as children are concerned, corn is less a vegetable than a kind of honorary pasta: its only real flavor is a kind of bland, Frito-y sweetness, and it also benefits from summery associations with picnic tables, long, late twilights, and dripping butter. This soup can also be deliciously meatless — just sauté the onions in a knob of butter and proceed with the recipe. You could even try grating a little smoked cheddar on it.

What you'll need

  • 5 or 6 slices of bacon, sliced into small pieces
  • 1 onion chopped fine
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced, with some of the finely-chopped leaves
  • 4 cups peeled, diced potatoes
  • 1 quart (1 box) chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 crumble of dried thyme (aka a "pinch")
  • 4 cups corn kernels (or a 1-pound bag frozen, which is 3 1/3 cups)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • salt and pepper

How to make it

  1. In a soup pot (I actually used a medium-sized pot, and the soup just barely fit), begin cooking the bacon over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it starts to give up a lot of its fat.

  2. Now add the onion and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and browning and the bacon looks quite cooked, about 10 minutes or so.

  3. Add the potatoes and the canned broth to the pot, along with the crumble of thyme and the salt, then raise the heat to high and bring it to a boil before turning the heat way down and covering the pot to simmer gently until the potatoes are very tender. (Did you get all that?) This will take about 15 minutes.

  4. Now add the corn (you don't need to thaw it first) and half and half, turn the heat up to boil it and then down again to simmer it (like you just did), and cook the soup for about 5 minutes longer, until the corn is tender. At this point I like to puree about half the soup, and I do this with a stick blender-you could do it in a real blender (be very careful though, okay?), or you could even just use a wooden spoon to mash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot.

  5. Now taste for salt: it will likely need more, which you should add with a grind or two of pepper before serving.

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