This chowder is definitely a great opportunity to use up the last few ears of late-summer corn but keep in mind that it tastes just as delicious using frozen kernels. Bonus: They're super cheap and available year round. If you’re vegetarian, skip the bacon (just use about one tablespoons olive oil to cook the onion mixture).
4 strips bacon, cut into pieces, plus more crumbled bacon for serving (optional)
2 large yellow onions, chopped
2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 (12-ounce) bottle lager-style beer (regular or toasted)
2 cups water
3 medium unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes, cut into small cubes
4 to 5 cups corn kernels
1 to 2 tsp hot sauce
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
Croutons, for serving (optional)
Snipped chives, for serving (optional)
1. Cook the bacon in a large sauce pot over medium heat until crisp, about eight minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon; reserve the drippings in the pot.
2. Add the onions and 1/2 tsp salt to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about five minutes. Stir in the bell peppers and cook until almost soft, about three more minutes.
3. Add the butter to the pot with the vegetables and cook, stirring, until melted. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture resembles a paste and the raw-flour taste cooks out, about three minutes. Stir in the beer, water, and potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, if using fresh corn, put kernels in large microwave-safe bowl, cover with vented plastic wrap and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until tender, about two minutes. Skip this step if using frozen corn (it’ll thaw right in the soup).
5. Stir the corn, hot sauce, half-and-half, cheddar cheese, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper into the chowder. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheese melts, about five minutes.
6. To serve, ladle chowder into bowls and top with reserved bacon, more shredded cheddar cheese, croutons, and chives if desired. To reheat, microwave individual portions in 30-second intervals until warm, or warm in a saucepan on the stovetop. Keep toppings in resealable plastics bags in the fridge and add just before serving.