life in the country

Take me to the country, where farms and fields hug the highways and roadside stands sell 14 EARS OF SWEET CORN for $4 total, and I am powerless to resist it all.

It won’t matter that I have no idea what to do with the corn, for example. It won’t matter that I am one person and 14 ears of corn are, well, an awfully large amount of corn for one person. I will take them, hug them in a green plastic bag, set them in the back seat while we go antiquing in a sleepy town named Sandwich and to a little diner that sells chicken fries and mini hamburgers. And I’ll keep telling you things like, This is fresh sweet corn! The kind where I can look at the field it grew in! Straight from the farm! And you’ll know I am a happy girl.

14 ears of corn

Of course, the next day, there’s the inevitable resulting questions of What was I thinking to buy so much corn? What am I going to do with it all? So, as I like to do with such dilemmas, I turned to Twitter. The really nice people out there gave me suggestions for corn salsa and corn pudding and boiled corn topped with butter and red pepper, and it all sounded so good that, in minutes, I was thinking not that I had too much corn but not enough.


I started with corn chowder. I love corn chowder. Both Jacqui of Happy Jack Eats and Lucy of Hungry Cravings reminded me of this, and I knew what I had to do.

corn cobs

The recipe I used, originally from, demonstrates everything that is good about corn chowder: packed with the sweetness of the corn and carrots, creaminess from the butter and milk, big bites of soft potato and hints of thyme and onion. It uses every bit of the corn, including the cobs, which you break in half and put in the pot while the whole thing cooks.

corn chowder

I made it in my new Le Creuset, as you might have guessed, and it was all So. Easy. Seriously. It’s hard to go back to canned soup when there are such foolproof, amazing, I-will-lick-my-bowl-clean-every-time recipes like these (yes, I’m looking at you, carrot soup and cream of spinach soup and Julia Child’s potage parmentier).

corn chowder

I do realize, in case you’re wondering, that it’s August right now, the month of heat waves and humidity and the anniversary of a sweltering day in 1982 when my mom endured 19 hours of labor bringing me into this world. You may think it’s not the right time for soup.

However, respectfully? I disagree. And so does my empty bowl.

(Side note: how cute is that below tablecloth, right? It was a gift from the same Jacqui of Happy Jack Eats who recommended chowder in the first place. Do you know her blog? You should.)


From where I sit in the luxury of this air-conditioned kitchen, hot soup is mighty fine, just as hearty and comforting and coat-your-stomach good as it is in late fall, which, I can hardly believe, is coming very soon.

And if, for some reason, you find yourself with bags of corn to use—well, first of all, I want to be friends with you, so please tell me about it, but second: stay tuned.

There are more corn recipes to come, as well as the recap of the party (!) I have been promising all week, in time, I promise. Meanwhile, have some of this, and think of me.

Corn Chowder
Adapted from Simply Recipes

2 Tbsp unsalted butter (Alternately, you could substitute one tablespoon of the butter for a strip of bacon or a teaspoon of bacon fat)
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 large carrot, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 celery stalk, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
3 ears of sweet corn, kernels removed from the cobs (about 2 cups), cobs reserved
1 teaspoon chopped bay leaves
3 1/2 cups milk, whole or low fat
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, or Russet, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme

Begin by preparing the corn: Remove the husks and silk (and as much of those little stringy pieces as possible!). Then, I liked to stand one cob at a time in a bowl (helps keep the kernels from flying all over the room), using a serrated knife to cut off the kernels. After doing this once, I’d lay the cob, cut-side down, on a cutting board to cut off the rest. (Remember to save the cobs!)

Next, in a large saucepan (I used my new 4.5-quart Le Creuset), melt the butter over medium heat. (If using bacon, you’d add it here, frying until it renders its fat but hasn’t browned, Elyse says for about 3 to 4 minutes.) Then you’ll add the onion and cook it for about five minutes, until soft. Add the carrot and celery and cook for another five minutes or so.

Break the corn cobs in half and add them to the saucepan, and add the milk and bay leaf. Bring this mixture to a boil and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes. Check to make sure the heat is as low as possible (my stove has a “simmer” setting just before the superhot one) so that the milk doesn’t scald.

After 30 minutes, take out the cobs and any large chunks of bay leaves (also take out the bacon strip, if applicable). Raise the heat and add the potatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt and some pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a simmer and reduce the heat to maintain this temperature for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender.

Raise the heat again, and add the corn kernels and the thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serves 4. (Or one very hungry me, about two times.)

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Lan

    oh how i adore corn, on the cob, in a soup, in a stew, in a salsa… i just love corn. altho i haven’t had it on the cob in about 435 days.
    i agree with you, despite the sweltering heat, and the heavy humidity that friggin promises to crush us, soup is good all year round. i have taken to only half heartedly heating my soup till the refrigerated chill is off, it’s just as good lukewarm.

  2. Bethany

    Loved, loved, loved this post! Antiquing and roadside produce – what more can you ask for – and then the excuse to encounter new recipes – sounds like a happy, hot August day!

  3. Emily

    Corn. Is. Amazing. I’ve just made a pilgrimage home to Indiana to see my family, but also to eat corn. Corn that still has dust from the field on it. Corn that is so sweet you can imagine having it with ice cream. I ate three ears of corn today. Just steamed. With butter. Bless corn.

  4. Katie

    I enjoyed this post – sweet corn is so good! It’s hard for me to do anything though with cobs except just eat them as they are. This recipe, did however, sound quite delicious!

  5. Shannalee

    Lan, I love (and empathize) that you’re keeping track of the days. I have, to this day, not eaten corn on the cob since I got my braces back in eighth grade. Some things stick with you.

    Bethany, Thanks for your sweet comment! I totally agree about antiques and produce – some of the best things in life!

    Emily, Love the phrase “corn that still has dust from the field on it.” Perfect.

    Katie, Sweet corn IS so good! And this soup makes the most of it. Really.

  6. Jennifer

    I’m an eat-soup-year-round kinda girl and this corn chowder sparks my fancy. I’m also adoring your Le Creuset. I’m overdue on purchasing such a lovely piece of kitchenware.

  7. Jacqui

    yay for corn chowder and yellow tablecloths! i’ve had this exact recipe bookmarked for weeks now. i don’t know what i’m waiting for — maybe someone to just drop a ton of sweet corn at my front door or something. this settles it though — i NEED to make this corn chowder. ASAP.

    also, if you’re still looking for sweet corn recipes, i found this article with dessert recipes and thought of you! (the sweet corn cupcakes sound damn good!)

  8. jessiev

    oh this is brilliant! our local amish farm has lots of fresh veggies – we’re eating so many tomatoes, zucchini, cukes…and the corn is coming up soon, she said! :) YAY! i know what to do w/it, thanks to your recipe. we always cut it off the cob and freeze them in bags. so tasty! thanks for this delicious recipe.

  9. Kristilyn

    This looks delicious! I agree that any time is good for soup. It’s just so comforting, whether it’s -40 degrees or +40 degrees (though we rarely see the latter in Canada). I’ve never thought to buy corn on the cob to preserve the corn, but I’ll have to do that now!


  10. Hannah

    These photos are so great! I’m craving corn chowder so bad right now.

  11. Susan

    I had corn chowder for lunch today! But I know it wasn’t as good as this recipe. I agree, I’ll drink hot soup in the summer, especially corn chowder – I’ll also drink iced coffee in the winter.

  12. Shannalee

    Jennifer, I am so far gone in Le Creuset fandom, it’s ridiculous. Do it. You’ll never look back.

    Jacqui! You were what I was looking for Monday night: a person to give corn to! Why didn’t I think of that! Thanks for the great tip about sweet recipes (you know me well). I have one lone ear left, and I think it might be enough for the cupcakes, as soon as I find the time! Thank you again for the tablecloth/towel and scooper, by the way. You are so kind.

    Jessie, There is nothing like fresh produce, and this summer has spoiled me so much that I worry fall and winter will be very sad. But you’re right: freezing corn (and other things) means produce year-round!

    Kristilyn, It IS so comforting. And since corn is so cheap right now, it’s a great time to stock up for later, winter or otherwise!

    Hannah, You are sweet. Thank you and MAKE THIS CHOWDER! You will thank me later.

  13. Shannalee

    Susan, you must have written that comment right when I was writing mine! Yay for soup in summer, but seriously, try this version of the chowder. So good.

  14. kimberly

    I love corn, especially the bi-color ones. I just steamed them and eat them au naturale.

  15. Shannalee

    Kim, That’s what everyone’s been telling me – that good old steamed or boiled corn is the way to go. I guess when the vegetable’s already delicious, there’s little you have to do to it! Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Pingback: Seasonal Thanksgiving Soups

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