Corn & Green Chile Chowder is layered with summer flavor throughout with sweet spice and creamy comfort all the way to the bottom of the bowl.
In my opinion, this is the second best way to enjoy in-season corn—fresh off the grill with plenty of butter is my first choice. However, this is the very best way to enjoy the leftovers, which is what inspired this recipe in the first place.
Most Saturdays you will find us at the farmers market searching for three specific flavors that speak summer to me like nothing else.
♥ Sweet, crisp watermelon, red as a ruby and thump-tastic. You can always tell you’ve got a good one when it begins to split under the pressure of the knife. Unfortunately, this was not the year for watermelon and we did not experience such bliss.
♥ Sun-kissed peaches, so plump the juice runs down your hand all the way to your elbow, which means you have to move fast because it’s harder to lick off your elbow. We had one small bag from our favorite farmer in Palisades that came close, but the weather didn’t cooperate with orchard farmers for a stellar crop.
♥ Last but not least, is corn on the cob, which is the star of Corn & Green Chile Chowder. Growing up on a farm, we ate corn so sweet and tender it barely needed the heat of cooking to be ready for the table. One ear was never enough and that’s the experience I long for every summer—young, supple kernels exploding with flavor so sweet it borderlines on dessert. Every bite satisfies as you consume row upon row before surrendering the bare cob. No matter what else you’re having, it’s the best thing on your plate.
Good food doesn’t just satisfy, it inspires.
We fired up the grill to roast this perfect bounty and I was one happy girl. It was so good, we had to capture every last ray of sunshine held within, so the leftovers became chowder. With the perfect taste of summer ladled in my bowl—grilled corn, roasted chilies, cauliflower, and smoky bacon—it didn’t even matter that it was still almost 90° outside.
Oh yes, cauliflower! I almost forgot the secret ingredient I subbed for potatoes. As much as I love corn, it is starchy enough, so I didn’t want to add potatoes, yet the soup still had to be silky and comforting. Cauliflower is an ideal substitute to add vegetable texture and fiber without altering the pure corn flavor. The assortment of chilies was to entice my sweetheart, he’s a bigger fan of chilies than corn (sometimes I think his blood runs green).
The chilies are optional, so if you’re a corn chowder purist, the recipe works just as well without them. Like the heat? Sub one or two chipotle chilies in adobo for the roasted peppers, but be careful not to overpower the corn—after all, it’s the reason we’re taking the time to boil corn cobs here.
**Check recipe notes to make this recipe dairy-free.
Corn & Green Chile Chowder
- 6 ears corn on the cob or 3 cups corn kernels , kernels removed and cobs reserved
- 2 cups corn stock , made from the corn cobs
- 6 slices bacon , cooked and crumbled, divided, reserve 1-2 pieces for garnish
- 1 whole Poblano pepper (generally mild) roasted, peeled, chopped
- 2 whole Anaheim chili pepper (optional - adds spicy heat) -- roasted, peeled, chopped
- 1/2 large onion , chopped
- 2 stalks celery , finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- 2 cups cauliflower , about 2/3 lb, cut into small cubes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock , plus more to thin soup, as desired
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup cream
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Fresh jalapeno or other chilies for garnish
- Cilantro leaves , chopped for garnish
- Cut the cooked corn from the cob and set aside. (If using fresh, uncooked corn, simply cut from the cob and add a few minutes to the cooking time.) Break cobs in half and place in a large pot with 6 cups of filtered water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes to make the corn stock.
- Fry bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels. Roast peppers, skin side up, under a broiler or on a hot grill until skin blisters and is blackened in spots. Remove from oven/grill and place peppers in a sealed plastic bag to cool--the steam in the bag will make it easier to remove the skin. Once the peppers cool enough to handle, remove the skin and chop.
- Remove cobs from corn stock and pour into a large measuring cup -- the stock should reduce to 2-3 cups. Reserve any amount over 2 cups to thin the soup, as desired.
- Add 3 tablespoons of the bacon grease to the large soup pot with the onions, celery, and garlic. Cook on medium heat until the edges of the onions begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the cauliflower, salt, and 2 cups of corn stock to the onions and celery. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.
- While the cauliflower is simmering, puree 1 cup of the corn kernels in the chicken stock with an immersion blender or food processor until smooth. When the cauliflower is tender, use an immersion blender to blend part of the soup, or place 1 1/2 cups of the soup in a blender to blend until smooth. (This helps to thicken the soup.)
- Add the pureed corn, whole corn kernels, 4 slices of the bacon (crumbled), milk, diced chilies, and black pepper. Simmer for 5-10 minutes to meld flavors (if the corn is raw, add 5 more minutes to this cooking time).
- Stir in the cream and additional chicken or corn stock to thin the soup as desired. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve in bowls and garnish with jalapeno, cilantro, and bacon.
- Substitute chicken stock for the corn stock, if corn on the cob is not available. Also, you can prepare and freeze corn stock for later use. **
- To make this recipe dairy-free: Omit the milk and cream. Increase the amount of cauliflower by 1 cup and chicken or corn stock by 1 1/2 cup. Simmer this cauliflower separately in the chicken or corn stock until very soft, then puree until smooth. The result will be a milky-white puree which will provide a creamy texture for the soup without adding milk or cream.
Love the fresh corn taste – it must be the corn stock that makes the difference.
Peter @Feed Your Soul Too says
This looks great. I love corn chowder and I love to put green chilis in most things.
Judy, I love, love, love corn chowder, but haven’t made it for ages since cream isn’t my friend these days. Thank you so much for the dairy free option to your magnificent recipe! xx
Chiles are optional? I don’t think so! 🙂 What a delicious looking soup and perfect for the cooler temperatures we’ve been having. Have you been surviving all of the rain? So lots of flooding up your way. Well, you chowder looks delicious and what an interesting twist with the cauliflower!
Judy Purcell says
Thanks, MJ, I thought of you when I was making this soup, you do so many delicious things with chiles. The chiles really are wonderful, but I do have a few friend who don’t like them (I know, hard to believe).
Personally, we are okay from all the flooding, but so many around us and North of us are not. Some mountain towns are completely cut off, hundreds of homes lost, many still missing, and at least 6 lives lost. It is devistating to many, very sad. Thank you for asking, friend.
Amy (Savory Moments) says
I love all the roasted flavors here. Chowder, with corn and a but of spice, is a wonderful soup. One of my favorites and your version looks really, really tasty!
Judy Purcell says
Thanks Amy, as the weather turns cooler it is even better. 🙂
I love chowders and my favourite are the seafood variant but it looks like it will change soon, I want to give it a shot, roasting your ingredients would give this a bolder flavour
Judy Purcell says
Yes Raymund, roasting the ingredients makes a big difference. I do hope you try it and let me know how it turns out. 🙂
Pure Complex says
I am not a huge fan of the chile flavor, but I can not deny how delicious this looks. So I have to try this when the days begin to get colder. Delish
Lovely chowder! Although nothing compares to the flavor of fresh corn, the frozen isn’t half bad, and could probably substitute nicely in this. Which is what I’d have to use – our fresh local corn is no more, alas! Still getting plenty of watermelons and peaches, though. Great recipe, and I happen to have some Hatch chilies that I roasted and froze. I think they’ve found their new home!
I so agree with the significance of the flavors of watermelon, peaches, and corn. They mean Summer to me like no other vegetable or fruit. This soup that you’ve prepared sounds fantastic, Judy, and using cauliflower as a thickening agent is a very good idea. Though corn season is ending, there’s still time to make this soup. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
Judy Purcell says
Thanks, John. Yes, there should still be time, but it is short indeed. I do think you’ll like the addition of the cauliflower — so healthy and good!
That cilantro adorned first picture is such a stunner! I looked deep into it and I found so much warmth, joy, love, laughter, happiness and positivity into that little chowder bowl !
Outstanding recipe and fascinating photos, as always.
Judy Purcell says
Hi Nusrat, and thank you for your kind words, you are such an encourager!