Monday, October 17, 2011

Corn Chowder

Fall brings a lot of foods back into my life that had been given a rest during the warm summer months.  One of those foods is soup.  Ok, so soup is kind of a category of foods, but nonetheless, as soon as fall comes I tend to get a little soup crazy.  I have actually been wanting soup for quite some time but refuse to make it unless it's less than 80 degrees outside.  I don't know about you, but I don't like my food to make me sweat, and if you eat soup when it's over 80 degrees outside, you will undoubtedly be sweating by the end of your bowl.

Corn Chowder is the perfect "kick off to fall" soup because you ideally want to make it while fresh corn, in the husk, is still available.  This recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated, and they have yet to let me down.

Corn Chowder
Start to finish: 60 minutes
Makes 7 servings

8 ears of corn
1 onion, chopped
4 slices of bacon, chopped into bite size pieces
2 tsp fresh thyme
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup flour
5 cups water
3/4 pound red potatoes. cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup half and half

The first thing you'll want to do is bake your bacon.  Never baked bacon?  See how I did it here.

While it bakes, take a knife to the ears of corn and start stripping the kernels off.  This is going to get a little messy.  Try not to let corn fly everywhere.  When you're done transfer the corn to a bowl and set aside.

This next step was a lot of hard work, and it didn't yield what I thought it would, so I'm not sure if I would do this again.  You may try it and have better luck than I did.

Take the back of a butter knife and scrape away any remaining pulp on the cobs into a couple of paper towels.

Ring the pulp out, leaving the juice at the bottom of the bowl.  Discard the pulp.

Given this last picture you can probably guess why I doubt the worthiness of this step.  Maybe I am just a really good corn shucker and there wasn't much pulp left to scrape.  The recipe says you should end up with 2/3 cup of juice.  Clearly this didn't happen here.  If you go through this step when you make this soup, let me know if your efforts yield a better result.

At this point your bacon should be baked.  Pour all rendered bacon fat from the bottom of the sheet pan into the bottom of a dutch oven and turn the heat to medium.

Add the onion, thyme, salt, and pepper.  If there's not enough bacon fat to go around, add in a tablespoon of butter for good measure.  You are going to be making a roux a little later.

While you are waiting for your onions to soften, chop the potatoes.

Once the onions are cooked down, but not brown, add in the flour and cook that for about 30 seconds.  Next, deglaze the pan with some water.

Add in the rest of the water and bring the whole thing to a boil.  Once boiling, add the potatoes and corn.

Leave the soup uncovered until the potatoes have softened.  This takes about 15 minutes.

Once the potatoes are cooked, pull 2 cups of the chowder out and let it cool for a couple minutes.  Then process it in a blender until smooth.  Not chunky at all.  This is going to further thicken your soup.

Return the puree to the chowder and add in the half and half, bacon, and reserved corn juice.

My husband wants me to warn you that this soup may not be as thick as a "traditional" chowder.  He reminded me only at least a half dozen times that my soup was a little on the thin side.  But gosh darn it, it's tasty and that's all that matters!

I got this great idea from 100 Days of Real Food to individually jar and freeze the leftovers.  Perfect for work day lunches!

1 comment:

  1. Men - they are SO helpful.

    Can't wait to try this. I actually LOVE my creamy soups to be on the thin side. Thickness does not equal richness and taste IMO.

    I will be making this very soon Klinks xo