Recipe: Light & Fresh Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

Recipe: Light & Fresh Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

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Patty Catalano
Jul 10, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

I have a keen eye for slow cooker meals that satisfy in every season, and for summer, corn chowder is my go-to. You'll find me cozied up on the couch with a creamy bowl of sweet corn chowder, watching the lightning strike as the afternoon storms come rolling in.

To me, an easy summer dinner is one that requires minimal prep, doesn't heat up the house, and is ready when I am. This corn chowder, complete with a bright and lemon-y bell pepper and corn relish, checks all those boxes.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Head to the Freezer Aisle for the Easiest Corn Chowder

Yes, it's peak corn season, and the grocery manager is practically giving away ears of fresh corn. But when chowder is on the menu, I head to the freezer section. Frozen corn kernels are picked and flash-frozen at peak ripeness, so the burst of sweet corn flavor is locked right in.

Every grocery store has the standard brands of frozen corn (and they are great!), but glance around and you'll likely find local or regional corn in the same freezer case. While they might not have the fancy branding or the big names, the corn is surely just as sweet. Frozen corn saves you the trouble of shucking the husks and slicing the corn from the cobs, making this meal a weeknight winner.

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder: Watch the Video

A Few Smart Techniques Keep This Chowder Light and Fresh

During their day-long cook, the corn and potatoes become golden and tender. You'll want to purée a few cups to give the chowder body, while leaving plenty of corn kernels and chopped potatoes whole for variety on the spoon. A few splashes of dairy bring the chowder together — use half-and-half or heavy cream, whatever you have — but add sparingly to keep the chowder light and fresh. And, in my opinion, all slow cooker meals should be finished with a hit of acid. For this one, I went with a colorful relish of thawed corn, chopped red bell pepper, and lemon juice.

And here's another tip: Instead of using bacon as a crutch to get a smoky flavor in this soup, I swap in a bag of fire-roasted or grilled frozen corn, or season with a pinch of smoked salt.

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

Serves 4 to 6

Prep time: 10 minutes ; cooking time: 8 hours

  • 1/4 cup

    diced red bell pepper

  • 1 tablespoon

    freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 1

    (32-ounce) bag frozen corn, divided

  • 1 pound

    Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced

  • 2 1/2 cups

    low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

  • 1/2 cup

    chopped yellow onion

  • 2 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 2 sprigs

    fresh thyme

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup

    half-and-half or heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • Chopped chives, for serving

Place red bell pepper, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of the corn in a small bowl and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Place potatoes, broth, onion, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and remaining corn in a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on the LOW setting until the potatoes are very tender, about 8 hours.

Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Transfer 2 cups of the soup to a blender and blend until smooth. Return the blended soup to the slow cooker. Add the half-and-half or cream and butter and stir until the butter melts. Ladle into bowls and serve with the corn and red pepper topping and chives.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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