This recipe for lobster corn chowder is the perfect way to usher in fall. It’s rich, flavorful and loaded with big chunks of lobster meat.
Chowder is a humble soup. It’s essentially peasant food for fishermen, made with inexpensive cuts of fish or shellfish (you know, like clams) and whatever odds and ends are laying around: celery, onion and potatoes, most certainly. And in my book? Cream. Always cream. A Manhattan style chowder is just not chowder to me. It’s soup.
This recipe however, is anything but peasant food. This is fancy chowder, the kind you serve on holidays or to people you want to impress. It’s a special meal, and one that will set you back a few bucks more than you’re probably used to spending on a home-cooked dinner. That’s because it’s made with one of my favorite ingredients of all time: lobster.
I’m very lucky to live in a place where fresh lobsters are at my disposal almost every single day of the year, and I realize that’s probably not the case for most folks. But if you’re able to get your hands on some fresh, cold-water lobsters for a reasonable price, I highly recommend you splurge and buy a couple to make this soup. It’s cozy comfort food that’s elegant and insanely delicious, making it perfect for cool-weather entertaining.
This recipe is adapted from the queen herself, Ina Garten. I’ve made it many times, and let me tell you, it can be a bit of a process, mostly from cracking all those lobsters. Which, by the way – try to do that outside if you can. I’m still scrubbing lobster goo off my cabinets. Anyway, you can’t just buy pre-shucked lobster meat for this recipe because you need those shells to impart a deep, lobster flavor in the broth. Many grocery stores will steam them for you – and maybe even shuck them if you ask – so that can at least help cut out some of the work.
Ina’s recipe is rich. It’s so rich in fact, that I actually cut the amount of dairy in my version to make it a little bit less-rich, which is somewhat out of character for me. There’s usually nothing that’s too rich for my palate, but in this case, I felt like it took away from the lobster. I wanted it to be just a little more delicate.
We’re in early fall right now, which means fresh corn on the cob is at the very tail end of it’s season. I think you could get away with using frozen corn for this recipe, but the corn cobs – just like the lobster shells – are also used to flavor the broth. If you’re not able to find fresh corn on the cob, I say make it anyway. It might not be quite as flavorful, but I think it will still be really delicious. In fact, the corn I used to make this one was so sweet, it was almost overkill. Corn that’s super fresh and sugary is better left eaten plain on the cob, or in a simple raw salad like this one.
This has been one of the rainiest Septembers I can remember. It feels like at least 3/4 of the days have been rainy, or at least overcast and foggy. While it hasn’t been great for Soulberri, for my garden or for general island morale, it has been great weather for chowder. No one wants a hot bowl of creamy soup when its 85 degrees outside, but when it’s 65 and drizzly, there’s truly nothing better. Especially when there’s lobster.
One Year Ago: Ricotta Cheesecake with Plums
Two Years Ago: Grilled Lamb Meatballs with Tahini / Buttery Buffalo Popcorn
Three Years Ago: Ground Cherry Torte / Turin, Italy / Cinque Terre, Italy
Four Years Ago: Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Corn + Crab Relish
Five Years Ago: Grilled Vegetable Panzanella
This recipe for lobster corn chowder is the perfect way to usher in fall. It’s rich, flavorful and loaded with big chunks of lobster meat. Adapted from Ina Garten.
For the stock:
- 2 stalks celery, cut into big chunks
- 2 cups water
For the soup:
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 cups heavy cream
- crusty bread, for serving
Remove the meat from the lobsters, cut into chunks, then refrigerate until ready to use. Add the shells and any juices that collect to a large stock pot.
Remove the corn kernels from the cob, then refrigerate until ready to use. Add the cobs to the stock pot with the lobster shells, along with the quartered onion, celery stalks, cream sherry, white wine, 3 cups whole milk and 2 cups water. Bring up to a simmer, then turn down to the lowest heat setting and cook for 45 minutes. Don’t let it boil – make sure the liquid stays at a very low simmer. Turn off the heat and let the stock sit while you prepare the rest of the soup. If desired, you can strain the stock at this point and refrigerate up to one day ahead.
Add the bacon to another large pot or dutch oven over medium-low heat and stir until crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels, then reserve for serving.
Add butter to the pot along with the rendered bacon fat, then add the onion and celery. Stir until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the potatoes, reserved corn kernels, salt and pepper, then stir for 1-2 minutes more.
Strain the stock if you haven’t already and add it to the pot (you can strain it right over top if you like). Bring it up to a simmer and let cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
When the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork, stir in the heavy cream and cream sherry, then simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the reserved lobster meat and chives, then stir to combine.
Ladle the chowder into bowls, then garnish with reserved bacon and more chives. Serve with crusty bread on the side.
Leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days, and it tastes even better the next day.
*This soup is definitely best made with fresh corn on the cob, but if you can’t find it, substitute 2 cups of frozen corn kernels.
Keywords: soup, chowder, winter, fall, seafood, lobster, corn, Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, shellfish, cream, comfort food, entertaining, Christmas, holiday, New Years