Miso-Bacon-Corn Chowder: An Umami-Packed Liquid Lunch

The recipes, of course, have been lovely. As have the beautiful photos of creative dishes ranging from BLTs to kitchen-sink concoctions.

But in the close to two years that I’ve had a monthly virtual lunchdate with food bloggers spread out from California to Paris, the thing I’ve most adored is the friendships that have formed, firmly sealed via a shared love for cooking.

Over Let’s Lunch dates and regular Tweets, this trusty band of bloggers has gotten rather fond of one another. So when our dear Karen mentioned that she couldn’t join us for lunch in May because of a strict liquid diet due to cancer surgery, our decision was clear. If Karen had to have liquid lunches in May, then well, so would we.

What to make for lunch? After regretfully dispelling the idea of martinis — delicious, though probably not the most healthy — a filling, hearty chowder came to mind …

One of my favorite home-made chowders is an old Gourmet magazine recipe for cheddar and corn chowder that I like to pull out during cold winter months when I’m craving summer’s sweet corn and looking for a weeknight dinner that’s both easy and oomphy. In spring, this chowder feels just a smidge too rich, however. But I had an idea for how to tone it down a little.

First, I started with the bacon, chopped up into little bits…

… tossed into a pot and fried to a crisp.

When that was done, the bacon came out and in went the onions, some butter, cumin, and later on, chicken broth and finely diced potatoes.

Now, toward the end, you finish off the chowder by stirring in heavy cream and shredded cheddar. To cut the fat content of the soup, however, I decided to try a trick I learned from an interview I did with chef Brad Farmerie of New York City’s Double Crown restaurant for the Wall Street Journal. To spice up his mashed sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, Farmerie packs it with Japanese miso paste, saying that “the richness and umami come from miso and allow you to not add so much butter.”

So instead of adding cheddar to the mix, I gradually added little globs of miso, which did indeed lend a unique dimension to the chowder. The end product was irresistible — the combination of corn, potatoes, chicken broth and cumin spiked with earthy, creamy miso and topped with bits of crunchy bacon, was unbelievable, if I may say so myself.

I had worried that I would miss the rich cheddar taste that I love so much about this chowder but the miso more than makes up for it — and its distinct flavor is an added treat, especially if you are a fan of the salty Japanese soup.

This chowder is more than a meal on its own but it’s also delicious served with piping hot biscuits and a side salad.

This one’s for you, Karen. Get well soon, dear!


Don’t forget to check out the Let’s Lunchers’ liquid lunch offerings below! And if you’d like to join Let’s Lunch, go to Twitter and post a message with the hashtag #Letslunch — or, post a comment below.

Caitlin‘s Spring Greens Soup with Homemade Baguette at Caitlin Shetterly

Cathy‘s Nut Milk at Show Food Chef

Chris‘s Asparagus & Artichoke Bisque at Blog Well Done

Denise‘s Mango Lassi at Chez Us

Eleanor‘s Turnip, Chinese Mushroom & Pork Soup at Be a Wok Star

Ellise‘s Cucumber-Avocado Gazpacho at Cowgirl Chef

Emma‘s Ham-Hock Soup at Dreaming of Pots & Pans

Linda‘s Crack Pie-Inspired Shake at Free Range Cookies

Mai‘s Peanut Butter-Espresso Smoothie at Cooking in The Fruit Bowl

Rashda‘s Spring Pea & Mint Soup at Hot Curries & Cold Beer

Steff‘s Gazpacho at The Kitchen Trials


Miso-Bacon-Corn Chowder

(Based on a recipe from Gourmet magazine)

5 bacon slices, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 cups chicken broth
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup heavy cream
10-ounce package frozen corn kernels
1 heaping tablespoon white miso
Salt, to taste

Cook bacon in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Add onion and butter to fat in pan and cook, stirring, until onion is softened. Add cumin and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Whisk in broth and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Add potato and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 8 minutes. Stir in cream and corn and return to a simmer. Add miso, stirring until it blends in with the liquid. If you like the taste of miso, add more miso at this point. Add salt to taste.

Serve topped with bacon, with a salad and hot crusty bread.


15 thoughts on “Miso-Bacon-Corn Chowder: An Umami-Packed Liquid Lunch

    • Thanks! I highly recommend adding miso to your pantry — I use it in stir fries (a tablespoon plus some sugar and chillies really spices up a vegetable stir fry) all the time. I recently whisked some together with low-sodium beef broth, ginger and garlic and made a lovely marinade for veal. Two thumbs up!

  1. Always love your ideas and recipes. I agree with Rashda, now I want to add Miso to my pantry. I stare at it in the store, but don’t pick it up wondering how I would incorporate it into everyday – you’ve given me that answer. Now, I’ll look for those easy ways to add a TBLS here and there. Love the chowder.

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  3. Hey, didn’t this whole crazy thing begin with bacon? And you’re still at it, I see….
    Well, thank goodness. Where would we all be without bacon? And without our fun Friday lunch group? Having lunch all by our lonesomes, we would. I just love how this little group has grown.

    • Yes! Where would we be without bacon indeed. (In my case, a few pounds lighter, I’m sure — I was looking over my Let’s Lunch posts and realized how many times I’ve used bacon. Maple bacon ice-cream, BLTs…Oy.) So glad our group is growing, too…xx

  4. Ooh Cheryl, this looks lovely!! My former editor gave me a great ham and corn chowder recipe last year, so I know I already dig these flavors mixed up together!! Can’t wait to try this!

  5. Pingback: Spring Greens Soup For Lets Lunch! | Tour Blog

  6. Pingback: A crack pie-inspired shake « Free Range Cookies Blog

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