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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cheese and Corn Chowder

If you have a toddler, anything that isn't thick like yogurt or applesauce eaten with a spoon takes a long time to master.  We've been eating family breakfasts of cold cereal for a while now with pretty good success.  Soup has been a different challenge.  Not only does it splash off the spoon, it's also hot.  And my son disdains anything he thinks might possibly make his tongue uncomfortable, never mind actually burn it.  Pretty sure he gets that from me; I am notorious for needing ice cubes in my hot tea.

So I did a zillion stews this past fall and winter, decreasing the thickness as time went by.  I then did some soups with which I could fill his bowl more with "stuff" than broth.  Until finally, I decided to bring on an actual soup the night before last.  This recipe, which comes from Cuisine, is filled with things most kids really like--namely cheese and corn--but also potatoes and bacon.  So I crossed my fingers and got cooking.

Cheese and Corn Chowder

5 strips thick-sliced turkey bacon, diced
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and diced
8 ears fresh corn, shucked, trimmed (4-5 cups kernels; may use frozen corn)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded white Cheddar
2 oz cream cheese

1.  Cook bacon in a large pot over medium heat until crisp, 5 minutes; drain on a paper-towel-lined plate and set aside.  Pour off drippings, wipe out pot with a paper towel, and return to burner.

2.  Melt butter with oil in same pot, add onion and celery, and sweat until soft, 7-8 minutes.  Stir in flour, thyme, salt, cayenne, and turmeric; cook 2 minutes.

3.  Add broth, potatoes, and corn kernels.  Bring chowder to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until potatoes are tender, 10-12 minutes.

4.  Stir in cream, Cheddar, cream cheese, and reserved bacon; simmer until cheese melts, about 5 minutes.  Do not let chowder boil, or it will curdle.  Garnish each serving of chowder with fresh minced chives if desired.

The Verdict:  Not only was this chowder delicious, but guess who ate it?  Yup, the toddler!

The Monday night that I made this chowder it was storming in New England.  Snow was turning to ice and it was cold, cold, cold.  It was the perfect night for something simmering in a pot on the stove.  This chowder really hit the spot.  It was thick and rich and filled with chunky bites to give it an almost stew feeling.  The cheese was great as I've only had corn chowder without, as was the tiny bite of heat the cayenne lent to the dish.

The original recipe goes on and on about using fresh corn and how the chowder will "positively sing" with it.  It's winter and the first ear of corn is months away.  I can imagine the taste difference is remarkable; there's nothing better than fresh, sweet corn.  But frozen was delicious, so don't wait until summer to cook this.  On another ingredient note, if you'd prefer pork bacon, be my guest.  I would imagine it lends an even smokier taste to the dish.  And by the way, cooking turkey bacon until it's "crispy" is quite a feat.  Browned and crisped on the edges might be as far as you can make it towards the crispy label.

My son tried to pass off eating it with an emphatic, "I don't like soup," followed with his infamous, "It's too hot," but finally gave up the ghost and tried a bite.  His eyes lit up and he announced, "I like it!" He finished 3/4 of the bowl, along with freshly made corn bread. 

This makes a LOT of chowder.  Invite friends, have a hearty appetite, prepare for many nights of leftovers or freeze what's left if you don't have a giant family like us.  But unlike so many leftovers, I'm looking forward to finishing this chowder!

(By the way, my preview picture on the camera looked a lot better than this.  It looks very bland here, but trust me, it's anything but.)

1 comment:

  1. Corn chowder is one of my absolute favorite soups. I am going to try this--I know I will love the added cheese.