This is probably going to get me barred from New England, but I have to confess: I do not like clam chowder. I blame my landlubbing ancestors, who migrated from several landlocked locales and (deliberately, probably to spite me) settled in this country as far from the sea as possible. My family’s evolution among grain crops, cattle and hogs has given me the genetic mutation to process a whole lot of meat and cereals in a single day but has left me with little taste for shellfish.
Add to that the violent reaction to mussels I have developed since arriving on the East Coast, and not only do I not enjoy bivalves in any form, I also fear them.
I am not opposed, however, to the concept of chowder. Creamy, potato-laden, a little spicy, chowder is a versatile foil for many flavors, none of them shell-fishy if you do not want them to be. And the best, in my humble opinion, is corn chowder. It showcases the summer harvest at its peak and must be eaten this time of the year, despite the heat.
My version features fresh sweet corn balanced by smoky bacon and a hit of chipotle chile. And conjuring up memories of amazing corn on the cob I had ages ago in Peru, I garnish the soup with a dollop of salsa de perejil (Peruvian parsley sauce), which gives the chowder a boost of freshness and a green balance to the richness of the cream and bacon fat.
This recipe also makes loads and freezes well—so there’s plenty to have summer in a bowl in a few months, when it makes more sense to be eating soup.