Heat the EVOO over medium-high heat in a soup pot. Add the bacon and brown to crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon and reserve the bacon bits. To the bacon drippings, add the garlic, onions and chiles, and cook to soften, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the corn and season with the thyme, paprika and salt and pepper, and stir. Add the cobs to the pot along with the bay leaves, potato and cover with the stock. Add a little water to the stock if it does not cover the corn. Cook the soup, partially covered, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the cobs and bay leaves and puree with an immersion blender until the corn is creamed. Stir in the butter and lime juice and add hot sauce, to taste. Cool and store for a make-ahead meal. Reheat over a medium flame.
Serve the corn chowder topped with bacon, scallions, herbs and cheese.
Recipe courtesy of Rachel Ray