Corn Chowder is one of my very favorite soups. The carrots, celery, corn and onion compliment one another, and the Panchetta and ham give it a really nice, rich flavor. The only seasoning it has is Thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper, and a touch of crushed red pepper. I know many recipes I have read call for adding red pepper, but I have always thought that strong flavor would take away from all the other ingredients, so I don't use it. Feel free to increase or decrease the quantities of ingredients, depending on how much soup you are making.
Here are my ingredients (this made approximately half of a deep soup pot):
Carrots (I had baby carrots, so I chopped up about 3 handfuls!)
Celery, 2-3 ribs
Potatoes (4 red potatoes)
Onion (1 whole vidalia onion)
Frozen Corn (1 bag)
Creamed Corn (1 can)
Fresh Parsley (up to you!)
Thyme (about 2 tsp)
Bay leaves (3)
salt and pepper
crushed red pepper (to taste)
panchetta (2 slices, diced)
ham steak cubed
chicken broth (1 box)
evaporated milk (1 can)
light cream (1/2-3/4 cup)
cornstarch and water (I used 2 tbs cornstarch and enough water to dissolve it)
Saute the onions, carrots, potatoes, and celery in a couple of tablespoons of butter. Add the Thyme. When the veggies are done, lightly saute in a separate pan 2 slices of panchetta that are diced, and combine.
Now that the veggies have become tender, add the frozen corn, a can of creamed corn, and a box of chicken broth.
Season with 2-3 bay leaves, salt and pepper, and a little crushed pepper for some heat. Let everything simmer for about 10 minutes, until the veggies are tender.
I love to add ham to my corn chowder. I have tried using sliced ham from the deli, but it is way too thin, so I get a little creative. I bought a ham steak, which is usually about 1/2 inch thick. It's perfect for cutting into bite-sized pieces. Stir in some fresh, chopped parsley. The last things to add are the evaporated milk and the light cream. The cream is totally optional. I think it gives the soup a little richness, but it is totally up to you.
Pour in on can of evaporated milk, and about 1/2 cup of light cream. I don't know about you, but when the word "chowder" is in the title, the soup should be thick, so I mix about 2 Tbs of corn starch with some water. Add in, a little at a time, and stir. It will thicken up pretty fast. Only add the amount you need to attain the thickness you like.
Not to sound like a broken record, but make sure you taste the soup all along the way, to make sure the flavors are right. I found I needed to add more dried chopped onion, because the cooked onion didn't provide enough flavor. When all was said and done, it really was the perfect bowl of corn chowder!