Soupy Sundays: Summer Corn Chowder with Pancetta

Can you tell that I like corn just a little bit?  Corn is definitely one of my favorite vegetables, and it always tastes like summer to me.  I especially like corn in soups, and so I decided to try Gwyneth Paltrow's Corn Chowder recipe from My Father's Daughter on this Soupy Sunday.

I made a couple changes, including substituting pancetta for the bacon.  The pancetta is great because it adds a lot of flavor to the soup, and it releases just enough oil to cook the vegetables without having to add any additional butter or olive oil.

Overall, I think this is a really good, flavorful soup recipe, but I just wish it made more than 4 servings!  If I were going to make it again, I might throw in a diced potato or a couple diced carrots (or both) and some more vegetable stock and milk to increase the servings.  There is definitely enough corn in the recipe to make 6-8 servings of soup.

In any case, the soup has a rich corn flavor and contains no heavy cream, which is fairly unusual for a corn chowder recipe.  I was also happy to use fresh herbs from our rooftop garden to add flavor to this summery dish.

Summer Corn Chowder with Pancetta (Makes 4 servings)
2 oz. diced pancetta
1 shallot, finely diced
1 medium Vidalia onion (another sweet onion would work too), finely diced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
6 ears fresh corn*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups vegetable stock (I used homemade stock following The Daily Soup recipe)
1 cup milk (I used almond milk; you can use regular or soy)
Fresh basil (for garnish)

*Cut the kernels off the cob and keep the cobs.

1.  Add the pancetta to a soup pot over medium heat.  Stir the pancetta and cook until it starts to brown, about 4 minutes.
2.  Add the shallot, onion, thyme, and bay leaf and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3.  Add the corn kernels, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, and cook for about a minute.  Then add the stock, milk, and corn cobs.  Cover the pot with the lid and turn the heat up to medium-high to bring the soup to a boil.  When the soup is boiling, turn the heat down, partially cover the pot with the lid, and allow the soup to simmer for 30 minutes.
4.  Remove the cobs, bay leaf, and sprigs of thyme from the pot.  

Purée about 1/4 to 1/3 of the soup in a blender until smooth (30 seconds to 1 minute).
5.  Add the puree back to the soup pot, and stir to combine.  Check the texture to make sure that it is thick enough.  If it's too thick, you can add additional vegetable stock or milk.  If it's too thin, you can purée some more of the corn kernels and add the purée back to the soup.  Taste to check for seasonings (if it tastes too sweet, you can add an extra touch of salt, but all corn is different so taste it to make sure). 
 6.  Serve garnished with some fresh basil if you have it and perhaps a good piece of bread to dip in the soup.

This soup makes about 4 servings.  Here are the nutrition facts for each serving
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 435 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 
Saturated Fat 
Trans Fat 
Total Carbohydrates 
Dietary Fiber 
Vitamin A 18%Vitamin C 27%
Calcium 8%Iron 9%

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