Chowder for all palates

9th February, 2009 - Posted by admin - Comments Off

Chicken corn chowder topped with croutons.

A few months ago I made a reference to waiting for the third snow storm to share my chowder recipe. I finally got tired of waiting for the weather to cooperate and decided to proceed with my favorite soup. Apparently the skies were also waiting for me, because I was treated to rain – then snow – while this was on the stove.

I love chowder. I happily tossed down gallons of it when I lived in Alaska. Then I moved to California, where chowder is not the official soup of the land and I became involved with a man who hates clams. Love is strange.

Since amendments had to be made, I began hunting up variations on classic creamy chowder. A quick Google search will reveal that there are many, many versions of chowder for every taste bud. About the only group that will leave disappointed are vegans; soy milk does not have the fat needed for chowder’s distinctive creaminess. Milk or cream – or both – are required to get the right consistency.

Research reveals that chowder varies by region and ingredients. West coast vs. east coat, crab chowder vs. conch chowder, Manhattan vs. Boston, the list goes on. Pretty much all the recipes agree that chowder is thick and stew-like with a creamy broth.

My favorite non-clam recipe is for the Chicken Corn Chowder below. The original called for two cups of butternut squash, which I have omitted over the years. Feel free to add it back in for an extra kick of vegetables. This is also a great way to use up any cooked leftover chicken that might be hanging around. Only a cup is needed, so don’t go through the trouble of cooking a whole chicken just for this recipe.

The addition of corn and red bell pepper both lend sweetness to the smoky flavor from the bacon. Diced carrot would be a fine substitution for the pepper, but I wouldn’t mess with the corn. It’s just too good with the other ingredients.

The directions say to add salt and pepper at the end, which should certainly be done. However, I recommend salting and peppering as ingredients are added. If food is salted as it cooks, it will taste well-seasoned at the end. If it’s only salted at the end, then it tends to taste salty.

The final product produces about eight to ten cups of soup. Enough for dinner and lunch the next day. As with most soups, it’s much better if it’s allowed to sit overnight for the flavors to mingle.

Serve with oyster crackers or homemade croutons.

Chicken Corn Chowder
Adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2003

5 bacon slices, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chopped red or orange bell peppers (about 1 large)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
6 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 cups potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 16-ounce bag frozen corn kernels
1 cup whole milk
1 cup diced skinned roast chicken (1/2 the rotisserie chicken)
Salt & pepper

Cook bacon in large pot over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1/4 cup drippings from pot.

Add butter to pot; melt over medium-high heat. Add onions and 1/2 cup of bell peppers. Saute until onions are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add flour; stir 2 minutes.

Mix in broth, then potatoes and thyme; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.

Add corn, milk, and 1/2 cup bell peppers. Simmer until corn is tender, about 10 minutes.

Add chicken; simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Posted on: February 9, 2009

Filed under: Dinner, Soup

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