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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Nice and easy Corn Chowder

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!

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