In-season corn is so sweet, it’s the perfect ingredient for a creamy summer chowder. Make sure to use the back of your knife to scrape off all the starchy liquid from the cobs to get the most flavor of the naturally sweet corn in your chowder.
Cut the kernels off the corn and scrape the cobs with the back of a knife to remove the liquid. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel–lined plate with a slotted spoon; remove 2 tablespoons of the drippings and set aside.
Reduce the heat under the pot to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, the chopped onion, corn and liquid, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the potatoes and chopped garlic to the pot and season with the smoked paprika and thyme; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and 1 teaspoon salt; cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
Smash some of the potatoes with a fork to thicken the soup. Stir in the chicken and heavy cream and cook until the chicken is warmed through, about 3 minutes.
Heat the reserved bacon drippings in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and cook until browned, 3 minutes, adding the sliced garlic during the last 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon to the plate with the bacon. Divide the soup among bowls; top with the bacon, onion and garlic.