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.
MAKE IT DAIRY-FREE: Substitute vegan cream or lactose-free heavy cream for the heavy cream, and use nutritional yeast in the pesto, instead of the parmesan cheese.
Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com
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