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Jalapeño Corn Chowder

jalapeño corn chowder

Think of this chowder as a lightened, lower calorie version of summer’s finest. Showcasing sweet corn and barely using the stove, this chowder doesn’t sacrifice taste and packs a big punch.

I stumbled across a version of this many years ago. With minimal ingredients, it was one I could easily duplicate in the middle of winter to bring summer back to my kitchen. I’ve tinkered with it quite a bit, and for the first time I used fresh seasonal ingredients and was surprised at how much better this soup became.

jalapeño corn chowder

The ingredients it combines is Sweet Corn, Chicken Broth, Roasted Red Peppers, Jalapeños, Half and Half, Queso Blanco (or Feta) and Cilantro. While a few of these ingredients are optional (say you don’t like spicy peppers), the base recipe is one to work with and then add on based on your preferences.

The reason I love this recipe so much is because fresh sweet corn is a favorite of mine in the summer months. I’ve been known to consume half a dozen cobs in one sitting which isn’t always appropriate when company is around. Instead of devouring the same ‘ol corn on the cob, this recipe highlights corn in a light chowder that barely heats up your stove.

Frozen, thawed corn works great in the winter, but using fresh corn brings out a ton more flavor. To use fresh corn in this recipe requires a few extra steps such as removing from the cob, and removing the starches (cooking it). Removing corn from the cob usually means a giant mess and a somewhat less than desirable chore. I’ve tried the corn zippers and many of the other gadgets promising to make this task easier. In the end, these gadgets don’t work any better than a few basic techniques and minimal equipment. The video below is an excellent tutorial on how to minimize mess and make this a lot easier.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRZCT3maxWk&w=600&h=400]

As far as cooking the starches out of your corn, it’s simple. Just cooking the corn in a skillet takes a few minutes, and you’re ready to start with your chowder.

Most chowders have a broth base and then layer in the cream. This recipe doesn’t do that. The chowder’s depth (without being heavy) comes from pulverized corn. By blending corn with the broth, you’re able to bring those cooked starches to the base of the soup and add a heaviness without tons of calories (not to mention a ton more corn-y taste).

Corn is blended with Chicken Broth to make the soup base for Jalapeño Corn Chowder. Immersion blenders work great, but you can also use a blender.

Corn is blended with Chicken Broth to make the soup base for Jalapeño Corn Chowder. Immersion blenders work great, but you can also use a blender.

Depending on your preferences, you can remove the blended corn bits with a strainer, which is what I recommend. I consider this step similar to what you do when you make chicken broth. You aren’t going to use any of the chicken meat used to make your stock due to the lack of flavor, same with the corn. Removing it brings clarity and smoothness to the base. Keep in mind that when I’m lazy and want a fifteen minute dinner, I won’t strain it and I’ll use ready to go ingredients. It tastes just fine.

Here are the Corn bits strained from the Corn and Chicken Broth mixture. As you can see there are a lot of chunks even with a good blend!

Here are the Corn bits strained from the Corn and Chicken Broth mixture. As you can see there are a lot of chunks even with a good blend!

Compared to two images above, this is the broth once strained. It's a lot lighter and cleaner of a broth, still packed with tons of flavor.

Compared to two images above, this is the broth once strained. It’s a lot lighter and much smoother broth still packed with tons of flavor.

From there, you add in your desired fixings to be reheated. This would be more corn kernels, roasted red peppers and cooked jalapeños. You remove the soup from the burner and add in your half and half. You finish by ladling the chowder into dishes and garnishing with cilantro and queso blanco (or feta).

Peppers and Corn getting reheated before serving the Jalapeño Corn Chowder.

Peppers and Corn getting reheated before serving the Jalapeño Corn Chowder.

Finished soup, are you ready to dig in?

Finished soup, are you ready to dig in?

In terms of dressing this dish up, or making it your own, there are a few ways to do so. Keep in mind this is just through my own trials and you might have some suggestions. In that case tell everyone in the comments below what you think would work, or has worked!

  • Extra spiciness– cook jalapeños with the corn, pulverize with the broth. For additional heat past that you can garnish with a hotter pepper such as a Serrano or Cayenne. Also, Sriracha makes a wonderful contrast on top of the finished soup.
  • Less spiciness– Omit the jalapeños completely.
  • Extra smokiness– Try grilling the corn before adding it to the soup. You could also char the jalapeños and red peppers yourself, removing the skin before adding to the soup (see use this tutorial).
  • Extra savoriness– Try adding cooked, chopped bacon when you garnish with cilantro and feta.
  • Extra heartiness– Consider adding cooked chicken, shrimp, crab or even lobster.
  • Extra creaminess– Add thin slices of avocado on top, or swap out the half and half with light or heavy cream.

And that’s as easy as it is! Do reconsider having soup during the warm months, and try a new way to showcase summer’s finest with my Jalapeño Corn Chowder. From my kitchen to yours!

Garnished with Sriracha, the Jalapeño Corn Chowder gets an additional kick.

Garnished with Sriracha, the Jalapeño Corn Chowder gets an additional kick.

Jalapeño Corn Chowder

Ingredients:

3 cups of Corn Kernels (preferably fresh)

14 ounces of Chicken Broth

1 cup of Half and Half

1/2 cup Roasted Red Pepper, drained and thinly sliced

1 Jalapeño, thinly sliced

1/2 cup of Queso Blanco (or Feta)

1/4 cup of loosely packed Cilantro, chopped

Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Prep your corn. If using frozen Corn, simply thaw and proceed to the next step. If using fresh Corn kernels, heat a skillet on medium heat. Add in 1 tablespoon of Oil and add in your Corn. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until starches are removed, season with Salt and Pepper.

In a blender, combine half of the Corn and all of the Chicken Broth. Blend until smooth. Setup a saucepan in a sink with a fine mesh strainer over top. Pour the blended mixture through the strainer and discard all of the solid corn particles.

Place the saucepan with corn broth on medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add in your additional Corn, Roasted Red Peppers, and Jalapeños. Simmer for an additional two minutes. Remove from heat and add in your Half and Half. Season with Salt and Pepper as needed.

Ladle out each serving of chowder, and place equal amounts of Queso Blanco and Cilantro into each bowl. Enjoy!

Written by Tarte Chic

Author Kat Nielsen (formerly Kat Wojtylak) is a creative type with an immense love for food. She maintains a day job handling marketing and brand support to various companies while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences.

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