Have you ever had a dining experience that totally blew you away? As in, the meal you had was unforgettable! Well if you’re ever in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, you must visit the Old Mill Restaurant. Once you get a taste of the amazing southern style food that’s served at the Old Mill Restaurant, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
One of the more memorable dishes served was actually the appetizer: corn chowder. And what a way to start off the meal! The southern style corn chowder was served alongside perfectly cooked corn fritters. Once we got home, I decided I wanted to recreate the corn chowder myself. I thought, if I can do it, this soup will be a staple in my holidays menu.
The thing about corn chowder is that it can be made with a variety of ingredients. But…there’s one ingredient that you just can’t do without and that is corn. No, not frozen corn and not corn out of a can. Fresh cooked ears of corn are required to achieve ultimate natural sweetness.
If you can, try and buy the husks of corn from a farmers market to ensure exceptional freshness. Freshness=sweetness. Some folks add honey to their corn chowder. But if you’re able to find fresh ears of corn, you don’t need the honey.
As stated above, this southern corn chowder has become a staple in my holiday cooking. It is served alongside a fresh garden salad as the appetizer course, followed by whatever main dish I’m serving, and ending with dessert. It makes a lovely side dish to any meal, and is great on its own with some croutons sprinkled on top. This corn chowder is comfort food at its best!
What You Need:
4 ears of fresh corn
1/2 cup half & half
4 Yukon gold potatoes
2 tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 bay leaf
4 strips of bacon
5 cups water (or broth)
This was a real treat to cook, because I had some nibbles of the fresh sweet corn in the process. The first thing I do is prepare my cooking space. Heat a large pot and add chopped bacon. The salty flavor and aroma adds a wonderful touch to the chowder.
Add minced garlic, and stir. Sauté bacon and garlic for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Remove and set aside. Pour in the water slowly and stir.
Next, cut the kernels off the ears of corn, and dice the Yukon gold potatoes. Add the corn kernels and potatoes to the pot, and season with salt, freshly cracked pepper, and one bay leaf. Bring the chowder to a boil, and then let simmer on medium heat for approximately 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender.
It is optional to purée 2/3 of the soup, but I find it really helps make it extra creamy. So, in a food processor take 2/3 of the chowder out, purée it, and stir it back into the pot. Add the butter and half & half and stir to combine.
You may add optional toppings to the corn chowder such as chopped chives, croutons, and even shredded cheese! Enjoy the chowder with lightly buttered fresh bread, or like they do in Tennessee : alongside some amazing corn fritters!
On average, corn is harvested in September, making fresh corn chowder the perfect fall/ winter treat! How do you know when corn is ready to harvest? If the corn silk begins to turn brown, while the husks are still green, the corn is ready! Happy fall!