This hearty soup comes together quickly and with simple pantry and freezer staples. It is delicious with or without cream, so feel free to omit it if you prefer a less-creamy soup. And stir in some leftover rotisserie chicken, shrimp, bacon, or even shredded smoked cheese for an even more filling midday meal.
Place the potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with a lid, and microwave on high for 3 minutes, until tender. Tip out onto a clean kitchen towel to dry off.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the potatoes and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potato cubes are browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the saucepan along with the red onions and celery and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onions start to become translucent. Add the corn and garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring regularly. Add the paprika and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
Add the balsamic vinegar and, using a wooden spoon, stir and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan until the vinegar has evaporated. Add the thyme and stock and bring to a vigorous simmer; cook for 5 minutes.
To thicken the soup, make a roux with the butter and flour: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When melted, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon for about 1 minute, until the flour has cooked but has not taken on any significant colour. Scoop out about ½ cup broth from the soup pan and add it to the small saucepan, stirring quickly to incorporate into the roux. Add this mixture to the simmering soup, stirring well to combine, and continue to cook until the soup has thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Stir in the cream, lime juice, and chives. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
This soup can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freezer for up to 2 months. You may want to add a good squeeze of lime juice to wake up the flavours after storage.