Saturday, July 14, 2012

Corn chowder: A little crunchy, a little salty, a little sweet, a lot of warm in a bowl

What a week! Multiple deadlines; complicated and unrelated topics (I am just glad I didn't mix up marine engineering with physician documentation, or at least I hope I didn't); nonstop push, push, push to get the work out the door. I still have a deadline pending (but it's a few days away, so I am taking tonight for me--sort of, I am still waiting for an email, but we are going to pretend tonight is all for me).

But I've been a lousy mom, letting my boy run wild in the house, scatter Legos all over the place, build some enormous structure. I don't want this kind of week to be the norm; I want to do better for and with my boy this summer. I suppose this is the last summer I will be "stuck" at home with him. Next year, he'll be old enough to start attending camps, and about a minute later he'll be off to college and starting his own family.

No, I know. There's plenty of time left. It just may not always feel that way. Sometimes the weeks get away from you so much faster than you ever imagined they could.

I did get a homecooked meal on the table every night this week. (Leftovers are always a such a gift.) We still eat out way more than I would like, and that's not good for many reasons, including expense, calories, and unknown ingredients and sources. Furthermore, I just feel guilty about how inconsistent eating out a lot is with the way I want to live (no matter how much I try to eat from restaurants that use sustainable and/or local ingredients).

But it was hard this week. Partly because I was so rushed and exhausted with projects all week, and partly because our stock of chicken, pork, and bacon from Haskins Family Farm was down to nothing but some bacon ends. But I got plenty of vegetables from the farmers' market last Saturday (perhaps too many), including some corn and potatoes, which to me says corn chowder. I love corn chowder, but I only make it during the summer. That's the only time the corn in the soup retains it sweetness and crunch. And with a tiny bit of bacon to start it off, well, that only makes it a little smokier, a little saltier, a little more complex.

This soup can be made with a combination of potatoes. In fact, if you were to switch out a few of the potatoes for sweet potatoes, that wouldn't hurt at all. Nope, not at all. Also, if you like a little more heat (I do have to keep in mind the fact that my son is five), I would highly recommend chopping up a chipotle canned in adobo sauce and add some of that to the soup.

Sadly, I didn't get a picture of the soup. I was too rushed, trying to get food on the table. Next time I make it, I'll try to get one to spruce up this post a little more. In the meantime, here's the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 6 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces (about an inch wide)
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, membrane removed, cut into small pieces (the membrane is where most of the heat of a jalapeno resides)
  • 6 fist-sized potatoes (a mix is always fun, but use anything you have on hand), cut into about 1/2 inch dice
  • kernels from 6 ears of corn (to slice it off the cob, cut off a small end piece so that you can stand it upright, then cut down the edge of the corn with your knife; the kernels will peel right off)
  • 6-7 cups chicken stock 
  • 1-2 cups of heavy cream (or half and half, if that's what you have and are inclined to use)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In your stock or soup pot, cook the bacon slowly, allowing as much fat to render out as possible and letting the meat get nice and brown and crispy. (Can you smell that?)
  2. With a slotted spoon, pick up the nicely browned bacon bits out of the pot and set them aside in a bowl lined with paper towels for the time being. 
  3. Add the onions to the bacon grease in the pan. Over medium-low heat, let the onions sweat for about 10 minutes. They should be nice and soft and "translucent," but not really brown. And they should smell amazing. 
  4. Bring up the heat to about medium and add the potatoes to the pot. Let them cook for 5-10 minutes and let them get a little brown around the edges.  
  5. Add the jalapenos and the stock to the pot. Add salt, pepper, and cumin to the stock. Bring the stock up to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Let the potatoes cook about 10-15 minutes. 
  6. Add the corn to the soup and let it cook another 10 minutes. 
  7. Add the heavy cream or half and half and the reserved bacon and let the soup warm up again (about 5 minutes over medium-low heat; you never want to boil cream). Taste the soup to find out if you need any more salt or pepper and adjust accordingly. (It's not easy to correct an oversalted dish, but you may be able to add some more cream or some water if the seasoning isn't wildly off.)
  8. Eat. Enjoy. Be happy. Have a nice evening with your family.   

4 comments:

  1. I tried to pin this, but alas, no photo. :( You can always just throw ANYTHING up (a corn cob, perhaps?). Just a thought. This looks delicious. Will try it.

    ReplyDelete