Corn & Crab Chowder

Ok, so I’m sure many of you are wondering…soup?  In late June?  When half of the country’s forecasted daily high is above 80 degrees?  And, didn’t I declare that it was “time to put away all those soup recipes I’ve been wanting to try” just a few posts ago?

Let me explain.  The day that I made this (which was a little less than a week ago) it was cool and rainy.  I had read about corn chowder in the July & August 20011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, and I just couldn’t wait to try it.  The base ingredient of this chowder is super sweet and fresh corn, which I’m not going to be able to find once it is official “soup weather” again.

I love fresh sweet corn.  I really can eat it all summer long.  My favorite method of preparation is to remove the husks & silk, splash a little olive oil/salt/pepper on it, grill it, and eat it right off the cob.  Apparently this trait is genetic, because my youngest son actually makes a very loud “yum-umm-mmm” noise while chomping away at an ear of corn.

But sometimes it’s a rainy and dreary summer day, and you just can’t justify using an umbrella to grill up some corn.  (Although I did fry bacon and eggs in the rain this weekend as part of a camping trip–I don’t recommend it.)  And, if you’re like me, you have a ham bone in your freezer left over from Easter that you’ve been meaning to use up, and this is a perfect opportunity.

Corn & Crab Chowder (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

  • 8 ears corn, husks & silks removed
  • 1 ham bone (see Notes for alternatives)
  • 6 cups water
  • 3/4 pound red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 3 Tablespoons minced chives
  • 6 ounces cooked crab meat
  1. Cut the corn kernels off of their cobs. (My method is to stick a fork in the pointy end of the cob, place the flat end in the bottom of a large bowl, and use a chef’s knife to remove the kernels. The fork helps keep the cob steady without getting your fingers too close, and the bowl catches all the flying kernels.)
  2. Use the back of a butter knife to scrape the remaining juice and pulp out of the corn cobs into a small bowl. Scrape this pulp into a double layer of paper towels. Squeeze the paper towels over the small bowl so that all the “corn juice” comes out. (Be careful not to squeeze too hard or your paper towels might burst.)
  3. Put the ham bone and potatoes in a large saucepan. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are almost cooked (approximately 10 minutes).
  4. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Saute the onion and thyme leaves until softened; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Remove the ham bone from the water and discard. Whisk the flour into the onion mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Gradually add the water and potatoes to the Dutch oven, whisking constantly. Add the corn kernels and cook until the potatoes and corn are cooked (approximately 5-8 minutes).
  6. Use an immersion blender to puree some of the chowder in the Dutch oven. Don’t go too crazy–you want it to be chunky. Slowly whisk in the half and half. Once the chowder has returned to a simmer, remove from heat and stir in the reserved corn juice. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  7. Ladle the chowder into bowls. Garnish with the crab meat and chives. Serve with crusty bread.

Serves 6

Time: 45 minutes 

Notes: If you don’t have a ham bone laying around (and don’t want to get one from a butcher) you can substitute with 4 slices of bacon.  Just chop the bacon up and saute it with the onion in step 4.  I still recommend cooking the potatoes in the water while you are sauteing the onion and bacon–it cuts down on the cooking time of the dish.  Also, if you don’t have 6 people to feed, don’t worry.  It tastes great as leftovers (especially when you have just come home from a soggy camping trip).  I would recommend keeping the crab meat and chowder separate in the fridge, and only reheat the chowder (the heat from the soup will warm up the crab). 

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