Corn Chowder & Resolution

November 9th, 2011 / Comments 5

Soon it will be Cooking Season. Thanksgiving is coming and then there’s December, filled with family birthdays, parties and  holidays. Lots of time will be spent at the market gathering food to refill the fridge and pantry.

Pt market bag 02 c egbert Corn Chowder & Resolution

There will be weeks of  marathon of mixing, stirring, slicing, dicing, creaming and blending. It was time to make meals that are simple to prepare, have a limited number of ingredients and are even better the second time around. Corn Chowder is one way to do that.

Pt Stock Pot c egbert 02 Corn Chowder & Resolution

Chowder is defined as any of a variety of soups, made with milk, enriched with salt pork and thickened with flour. It has been around since the sixteenth century when it was considered “poor man’s fare”. The word chowder may come from the French chaudiere, a pot used by fishermen in France to make a hearty fish stew by cooking fish with milk and vegetables, or it may come from jowter the Old English term for a person who sells fish.

Pto Roadster c egbert Corn Chowder & Resolution

Made with bacon, potatoes, corn and milk, the soup I made was chowder without fish because the closest fish to my pot was a twenty minute drive through the snow and eliminating trips to the market was part of my new resolve. I’m confident that the recipe police will not come to my post holiday kitchen to give me a ticket. Here’s how I made it:

Corn Chowder

Although traditional chowder is flavored with salt pork, I used half a pound of bacon cut in half-inch strips to give the soup a smoky taste. I cooked it in my large stockpot over medium heat until the fat had rendered, about ten minutes. I added two medium onions to the pot and when the onions were soft and translucent, I stirred in one heaping tablespoon of flour.

After the flour had cooked for two minutes, I stirred in two cups of water and one pound of unpeeled, yellow potatoes that had been washed and cut into half-inch cubes. When the water began to boil, I lowered the heat, covered the pot and cooked the soup. When the potatoes were tender, I added one pound of frozen corn kernels, three cups of whole milk and one Knorr vegetable bouillon cube. I heated the soup, without letting it boil, and simmered it for five minutes to cook the corn. Topped with a handful of chopped, flat-leaf parsley and a big grind of black pepper the soup was ready to serve in bowls that had been heated in the microwave.

I served the bowls of steaming chowder with wedges of hot corn bread that I had baked in a cast iron skillet and then slathered with butter. This dinner made us forget that the thermometer read minus two and it was good enough to turn the most persnickety recipe police officer into a lifelong friend. Best of all there was enough soup for dinner the next evening and lunch the day after that.

Chowder has become a winter staple and I make a vegetarian version by using a couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter instead of bacon. When gluten intolerant friends come to dinner, I leave out the flour and serve a bowl of saltines for the more tolerant diners who want to thicken their chowder by crumbling crackers into their soup. Corn chowder is transformed into fish chowder by adding, after the potatoes are tender, three quarters of a pound of mild white fish, cod or haddock, cut into one inch chunks. The soup is simmered until the fish is cooked, about five minutes.

If the recipe police have invited themselves to dinner, I replace the corn with two cans of clams and the water with clam juice and serve a most presentable clam chowder.

Click here to download and print an ingredients list and recipe.

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