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Pacific Coast Picture Stories
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Corn (or Clam) Chowder

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"Food is the most primitive form of comfort."
-- Sheilah Graham

This classic recipe hardly needs introduction, but I've been annotating my recipes so I feel compelled to continue... Chowder is a great fall-winter soup. I ought to buy a bushel of corn from the market & freeze the kernels but I haven't gotten to that level of enlightenment yet. (I did just read that zucchini bread & zucchini freeze well, so there's another idea for the great winter stock-up. I am still perfecting my zucchini bread recipe so when it's good I'll post it.) This is a simple recipe, but you can modify it to suit your tastes & the contents of your fridge/garden.

This recipe is almost the same as my clam chowder recipe: just use about a cup of chopped clam meat (razor clams gathered on the coast for me, of course) in place of the corn. You could also add some chicken chunks to make chicken corn chowder (you'd want to add them with the potatoes & be sure they got cooked well).

ingredients

  • 4-6 ears worth of corn kernels
    Fresh farmers' market corn is the best, of course, but frozen corn works fine too.
  • 4-6 potatoes, chopped
    I generally use russets for their texture, but red ones or purples are fun. If you grow your own use those before any other, no matter the breed -- or if you're thinking ahead, grab some at the market.
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
    red, yellow, white, shallots, leeks...whatever you got/want!
  • 1 red pepper, diced
    Can we just assume for these pages that any color will do?
  • 2-6 slices bacon, cooked up & crumbled
    Optional, but you know what they say about fat! (fat = flavor)
  • 6-8 cups stock
  • 4 cups milk
  • butter
    At least 4 tablespoons -- what's the difference between a good chef & a great chef? A pound of butter.
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • roux
    Optional. I like a thin buttery chowder, but on a winter day it's gotta be thick & hearty (like my beer). I add roux according to the temperature outside: a half cup in early fall to a generous cup in January. I used to be afraid to use roux but it's really quick & easy (roux).
  • around 2 hours (45 minutes solid work time)
  • Serves 6-8.

instructions

Sauté onion in butter until translucent.

Add stock & bring to boil.

Add potatoes & bring back to boil.

Add milk & bring to simmer.

Add pepper, corn, bacon & seasonings.

Simmer.

Add cold roux to hot soup & stir well. Let cool.


I can never wait a day for a bowl of this one, but -- like any soup -- it's always better when you let it sit a bit (uh, in the fridge, if that's not obvious ;). If you follow this recipe you'll probably have enough left over for a second meal or two!

Serve with a grilled cheeser for a complete meal or some soup crackers for a tasty lunch.


Roux

Use equal parts flour & fat.


Melt butter or rendered bacon fat (do not brown).

Slowly add flour, whisking constantly.

Correct consistency (like frosting) with more flour or more butter as needed.

Let cool.


Only add cool liquids to hot roux (always slowly, always whisking) or cool roux to hot liquids. I usually stir in some half & half to help cool the roux, then add it to the hot soup.

Roux will freeze for 2 months.



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leftie my pup Iverson sniffing at a rainbow trout on the Skagit River in British Columbia -- photo by Sienna
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