Sweet Corn Chowder with Lemony Pesto

Sweet Corn Chowder with Lemony Pesto // FoodNouveau.com

This soup is one of my favorite ways to use sweet, seasonal corn. I’ve been making it every year for the past five years, and it’s become a tradition of sorts that I make it strictly in the summertime. The produce and herbs needed to make it are much cheaper then, but they’re also at their flavor peak during the summer. I made this Sweet Corn Chowder with frozen corn from the supermarket once and there was just no comparison—but if you’ve picked up the habit of freezing your own corn kernels, I’m sure you’d get a pretty tasty result. If you freeze corn, make sure to freeze the cobs too–you’ll use them in this recipe, but you can also throw them in any broth to get a flavor boost.

This Sweet Corn Chowder comes together pretty quickly, and the simmering time gives you just long enough to make the lemony pesto—although you could very well drink a glass of rosé while the soup’s cooking and spoon your favorite pesto over it instead. Topping the chowder with cherry tomatoes is also optional, but they wonderfully underscore its freshness. Serve big bowls of this Sweet Corn Chowder with fresh bread for a hearty late-summer meal.

Sweet Corn Chowder with Lemony Pesto // FoodNouveau.com

Makes 6 servings.

Summer Corn Chowder with Pancetta and Basil & Lemon Pesto

This rich-tasting Sweet Corn Chowder wonderfully highlights fresh summer produce. Freeze corn at its flavor peak to enjoy the soup all year long!

30 minPrep Time

15 minCook Time

45 minTotal Time

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For the sweet corn chowder
4 ears fresh corn
1 tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (125 ml) diced pancetta (about 3 oz/85 g)
1/2 cup (125 ml) minced shallots (about 2)
1/2 cup (125 ml) diced celery (preferably from the heart)
2 tbsp (30 ml) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups (1 L) chicken broth
1 medium Yukon Gold potato (or another yellow, waxy variety), diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream (35% m.f.)
For the pesto
1 cup (250 ml) fresh basil leaves (packed)
1/4 cup (60 ml) grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp (30 ml) toasted pine nuts, or chopped almonds
Finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
To serve
1 cup (250 ml) halved cherry tomatoes (optional)


For the sweet corn chowder: Cut corn kernels from the cobs and put the kernels in a bowl to keep until needed. Save the cobs and cut each in half.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the diced pancetta. Cook the pancetta until browned and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Lower the heat, then add the shallots and celery to the pot with the pancetta drippings and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, salt, and some black pepper and stir for 1 minute. Add about 1 cup (250 ml) of the chicken stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any pancetta and vegetable bits, then add the rest of the broth, the corn cobs, the diced potato, and the bay leaf. Cover and simmer until potato is tender, about 15 minutes.

Fish out the corn cobs and discard. Stir in the corn kernels and the heavy cream. Optional: Scoop out 2 cups (500 ml) of the soup and purée in a blender or using a stick blender, then return to the pot. (This will give the soup a smoother, thicker texture). Stir the crisp pancetta into the soup, then bring back to a simmer, just to heat through.

The chowder can be prepared in advance up until this step. Let it cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

For the pesto: Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor, or to a blender. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl or container a few times to get a smooth consistency. The pesto should be loose and spoonable, so if it seems too thick, add some water, 1 tsp (5 ml) at a time, until you reach the right consistency.

To serve: Ladle the hot chowder into serving bowls. Add a generous spoonful of pesto, then top with cherry tomatoes, if desired.


Leftover pesto? Use it to mix with pasta, spread on crostini or pizza, or drizzle on a Caprese salad.

Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com


More Late-Summer Recipes to Highlight Fresh Produce

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Frittata di Pane (Bread Frittata) with Broiled Cherry Tomatoes and Prosciutto // FoodNouveau.com

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5 Responses to Sweet Corn Chowder with Lemony Pesto

  1. Marie! The chowder looks amazing and you’ve captured such a beautiful light look with your photos. And I agree about the cherry tomatoes – they do add a wonderful note to any recipe. Psst!! I want to whisper this to you — at the beginning you said be sure to freeze the kernels along with the corn. I believe you meant the cob as well as the corn kernels. I’m pinning all of your recipes – they all are treasures to make and savor.

  2. Ohhh, this looks gorgeous. Here in France, it’s rare to find corn on the cob, especially ears with tender, sweet kernels. I’ve started having dreams about shopping for corn at the farm stand (a sign that I *might* be reading too many food blogs;). Thanks for the recipe! I’ll save it for my summer cooking adventures in the States!

    • I had never realized that it was hard to find corn on the cob in France! It’s so common and abundant in Canada and the US that we take it for granted. August is for sure the best period for corn, I’ve been eating it almost everydday so it’s good to find new ways to enjoy it :)

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