- 8 ears corn, kernels removed (reserve 4 of the cobs)
- 1/2 cup celery leaves, chopped
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1/2 pound (about 8 slices) bacon, coarsely chopped
- 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 small bay leaves
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 quart milk
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste, depending on how hot you like it
- 1 cup crab meat, picked clean (optional)
- 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning (optional)
- 3 scallions, sliced on the bias
Place a large pot over medium-high heat with the four reserved corn cobs, celery leaves and 2 cups of water. Bring the liquid up to a bubble and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer and reduce the broth until about 1 1/2 cups remain, about 10 minutes. Reserve, keeping warm.
While the broth is simmering, place a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat with one turn of the pan of EVOO, about 1 tablespoon. Cook the bacon until crisp and brown, 4-5 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings from the pot and add the potatoes, onion, garlic, celery, red bell pepper, bay leaves, thyme sprigs and corn kernels to the pot. Sauté over medium-high heat until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the milk, hot sauce and reserved corn broth and bring to a bubble. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the chowder until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
If using crab, place into a small bowl and toss with Old Bay seasoning. Serve the chowder garnished with crab, a pinch of scallions and some of the crispy bacon.