Friday, October 9, 2009

A Warm Bowl of Cheddar Corn Chowder

Well I'm back from kicking up my heels up north, and in my absence, Sydney has slid back into winter. Today was 16C and poured with rain for most of the day. It was the type of day when all you want to do is curl up on the couch with a book - I am reading the "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" and am completely entranced. Happily it was also a great day for soup and as luck would have it, this week's Barefoot Blogger choice was a corn chowder. Chowders make the occassional appearance on Australian menus, mostly at seafood restaurants, but it is not a soup I have ever made before, or knew much about before today:

According to Wikipedia, chowder is a type of soup enriched with salt pork fatback (or bacon in this case) and thickened with flour and often featuring seafood. Apparently the word chowder comes from the cooking pot in which the soup is made, known in French as a chaudière. The word "chowder" came from Newfoundland where Breton fishermen — who would throw portions of the day's catch and other available foods into a large pot — introduced the word, and perhaps the soup itself. So, with the lesson out of the way....

The recipe below was easy to make and created a tasty soup that was very filling. Happily the kids all lapped it up. After giving half the chowder away and serving six for dinner, I still had enough soup to fill a box for freezing for another day. So, unless you are expecting a regiment to arrive at your place sometime soon, half the recipe would be more than adequate for most families. Incidentally, I skipped the half and half called for in the recipe because I just didn't think it needed to be any richer. And watch out before you add the salt - if your stock is salty you might not need any.

Thanks to Jill of My Next Life for the pick - it was a perfect choice for my day. If you feel like joining in and cooking some of the Barefoot Contessa's wonderful recipes every fortnight, join in Barefoot Bloggers.

from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten
250g bacon, chopped
1/4 cup good olive oil
6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)
60g unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
12 cups chicken stock
6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (1kg)
10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (1.5kg)
2 cups half-and-half (1 cup cream and 1 cup milk)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.


Me! said...

Who knew there was so much history to chowder? I thought it was just a thick soup. Impressive research. I think the cream gives it a creamier mouthfeel. I used some whole milk in mine. Great post!

Kate said...

Thank you for the information about chowder! Very interesting. We enjoyed this soup also. It's quite tasty and easy to make. You are right, I could have had an army over for dinner!

Ken Burgin said...

Nice recipe!

To enrich the stock, don't waste the cobs after the kernels have been removed - simmer them in the broth as you would other stock vegetables. They have a lot of flavour that's a pity to waste...