Basic Corn Chowder

by Cindi SutterFounder of The Spirited Table® - Recipe by Mark Bittman - NYT Cooking

This is chowder at its simplest: corn, onion, potatoes and milk, with a couple of chopped tomatoes and a handful of parsley to add flavor and color. Starting with bacon and finishing with cream makes a richer version of the dish. But you could easily expand its borders by adding curry powder and ginger, sour cream and cilantro. Or when the potato is replaced by rice and the cream with coconut milk, Southeast Asian seasonings can be added to make a chowder that has little in common with the original, save for its intense corn flavor.

Yield 4 servings

4 to 6 ears of corn
1 Tbsp butter or neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 cup whole or low-fat milk
½ cup chopped parsley (optional)


  1. Shuck corn, and use a paring knife to strip kernels into a bowl. Put cobs in a pot with 4 cups water; bring to a boil, cover and simmer while you continue.
  2. Put butter or oil in a saucepan, and turn heat to medium-high. When butter melts or oil is hot, add onion and potatoes, along with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5 minutes; add tomatoes and cook, stirring, for another minute or two.
  3. After corncobs have cooked at least 10 minutes, strain liquid into onion-potato mixture; bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. When potatoes are tender, add corn kernels and milk, and heat through. Taste, and adjust seasonings. Garnish with the parsley, and serve.

Cook’s Note

  1. Curried corn chowder: In Step 2, use oil, and add 1 tablespoon each curry powder and peeled and minced ginger to the onions. In Step 3, use sour cream in place of milk; garnish with cilantro in place of parsley.