Summer Fresh Corn and Lima Bean Chowder
Summer Fresh Corn and Lima Bean Chowder, it’s a mouthful. And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Succotash soup?” Because you like to say “Succotash.” But, that’s not what this is. So save your Sylvester impression for another day, sharpen your knife, and let’s cut some corn off the cob. It’s summertime and we’ve got to get to work on these piles of corn.
Here’s what you will need to make this deliciously rich and creamy summer chowder. See that knife in the photo? It was freshly sharpened because that’s what you’ll need to cut this corn like it’s butter. If you are thinking that cutting corn off the cob is too laborious, I’m going to put it bluntly (no pun intended) and I don’t want you to take it personally: your knife is dull. Sharpen it. I’ll wait. (Here is the Knife Sharpener I keep in my drawer and it works like a charm. It’s not fancy but it works. I love that about it.)
See that? It was so easy! Believe me, it happens to the best of us. Now let’s make quick work of the rest of these vegetables.
I discovered this soup recipe in Sheila Lukins’ USA cookbook many years ago and it’s since been a seasonal fav. I’ve added some things (carrots & cayenne) and subtracted others (heavy cream, flour) to make it a little healthier. (I would bet that you could even make it healthier by using less, or no, butter.) The way that I’ve made it thick without the flour or heavy cream is by taking some of the soup out in the final moments and pureeing it in a food processor. The natural starches in the potatoes and corn will thicken the soup into a rich chowder without adding extra fat.
Not only does pureeing the soup make it naturally thicker, it really enhances the flavor of the broth with all the bits of pureed vegetables. It’s the perfect blend of sweet and savory to the very last drop. And if I can’t appeal to your practical nature then I’ll try out the vanity angle. We’re still wearing summer clothes around here and Aimee Song just gave us 8 ways to wear a swimsuit , in public.
This chowder is so good it made me cry once, like Jerry Seinfeld’s girlfriend. I made a huge pot of it a day ahead, to take to a party at my parents house and when I heated the cold crock pot, it sort-of exploded. Afraid that there were shards of glass in the soup, someone (clearly not the someone who had cut corn off the cob and chopped vegetables for 50 people) suggested that we throw it away. It was a lesson almost as valuable as the contents of that crock. Don’t heat a cold crock-pot on high heat.
DO, however, make lots of this soup because it is even better (heated in the proper vessel, in a careful way) on the next day and the day after that. Possibly it would be even better on yet another day, but we’ve never managed to keep it around that long. The recipe that follows does make a pretty big pot of soup. If you really wanted to, you could cut it in half. (Also, if it’s not summertime, feel free to make this with frozen corn.)
If you find that it is too much to eat, I’m sure you could find someone to share it with. There is only one way to find out so let’s get to it.
- 6 ears of sweet corn, shucks removed
- 1/2 lb bacon, diced
- 4 Tbsp Butter
- 2 medium onions, diced (about 2 cups)
- 2 small carrots, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 12-15 little potatoes, diced (approx. 4 cups)
- 8 cups chicken broth, low sodium
- 2 cups half & half
- 2 cups baby lima beans (fresh or frozen, thawed)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 red or yellow bell peppers, diced
- 6 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp thinly slivered fresh basil leaves, for garnish
- Ground cayenne pepper, to taste
- Carefully cut the corn off the cobbs with a very sharp knife. Discard cobbs. Reserve corn.
- Cook the bacon in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is beginning to crisp, 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir to melt it.
- Add the onions and carrots, cook, stirring, until wilted, 10 minutes.
- Add the broth and potatoes, bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat until potatoes are tender but not mushy, 10-12 minutes. Add the half & half, corn, lima beans, salt and pepper and cook, stirring once or twice, 7 minutes.
- Very carefully, remove 4-5 cups of soup, making sure to get plenty of potatoes and vegetables and little broth, and place in a blender or food processor. Puree the soup until completely smooth, then carefully return the pureed mixture to the soup pot and stir until combined.
- Add the bell pepper and scallions. Adjust the seasonings, cook 5 more minutes. Serve garnished with the basil and cayenne, if desired.