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From Market to Plate: Zucchini Corn Chowder

The edges of the days are starting to feel like autumn, and with that comes soup weather. Recently, we enjoyed this lighter version of a chowder that utilizes the best of summer produce. The sweetness of fresh corn makes a rich, comforting bowl, but don't be afraid to also throw a little spicy pico de gallo made with garden tomatoes on top for a delicious flavor contrast.

Zucchini Corn Chowder

5 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

3 small zucchini, sliced into half moons

1 tablespoon flour

4 ears fresh sweet corn, divided

2 cups milk, divided

1 cup heavy cream (use all milk, if you want a lighter soup)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

green onions or chives, sliced as garnish

Cut corn from the cobs; reserve the corn from 2 ears. Cook bacon in a large, heavy pot until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and set aside, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan. Add onions and red peppers to the drippings; cook until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and the squash to the drippings and saute until tender. Stir in 1 tablespoon flour to absorb any extra bacon drippings and create a bit of a roux.

Place corn from 1 ear and 1 cup milk in a blender; process until smooth. Add pureed mixture and reserved corn and cream to the pan. Bring to a near boil to thicken slightly.

Add bacon and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until heated through, stirring constantly.

To serve, top each bowl with green onions and cheese.

**Chef Fran tip**Alternatively, serve topped with spoonfuls of fresh pico de gallo and corn chips to cut the sweet richness of the chowder.

(Serves 4)

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