Elote-Style Corn Chowder
Sweet and spicy soup, inspired by the beloved Mexican street food.
1 hour 30 minutes
Inspired by esquites and elote, popular Mexican street foods, this creamy, hearty chowder is an excellent way to use up leftover grilled corn. Even the cobs are added to the soup for an extra boost of sweetness and depth of flavor. Crema and cotija cheese from brands such as Cacique and Suprema are increasingly available at supermarkets but can otherwise be found at Mexican grocery stores.
Featured in: This Elote-Inspired Soup Is Summer Corn at Its Best
- 8 medium ears corn (3 lb. 12 oz.), shucked
- 4 Tbsp. (2 oz.) unsalted butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (1½ cups)
- 1 rib celery, finely chopped (½ cup)
- 1 medium poblano pepper, seeded, stemmed, and finely chopped (½ cup)
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp.)
- 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 3½ cups whole milk
- 3 medium yellow potatoes (about 1½ lb.), peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp. ancho chile powder, plus more for topping
- ¼ cups thinly sliced cilantro
- ½ cups Mexican crema or sour cream
- ½ cups crumbled cotija cheese
- Lime wedges, for serving
On a medium-hot grill or hot grill pan, char the corn all over, 15–20 minutes. Transfer to a platter and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Working over a large bowl, slice the corn kernels off each cob, scraping the cob with the knife to extract the flavorful juices. Halve 5 of the bare corn cobs crosswise, discarding the rest. Set the kernels and cobs aside.
In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter. When the foam begins to subside, add the onion, celery, poblano, garlic, oregano, and bay leaf. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, 7–8 minutes. Add the reserved corn kernels and cobs, milk, potatoes, and cream. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove and discard the cobs and bay leaf. Transfer 1½ cups of the soup to a blender and purée until smooth. Stir the puréed soup back into the pot of remaining soup to thicken. Season with salt and the ancho chile powder, then ladle into wide soup bowls and garnish with the cilantro, crema, cotija, and additional ancho chile powder. Serve with lime wedges.