Saturday, November 08, 2008

Simple Soup: Potato Corn Chowder

From the Urban Gourmand series...

Pantry raids, unlike their collegiate counterparts, are an exercise in econolapse survival. Before you go all organic free-range fresh-is-best on me this is about making the best of what we have, not what we want. In this foray we have located ...

  • 1 can GV diced potatoes
  • 1 can GV corn
  • 1 can Swanson Low Sodium Chicken stock
  • 2 cups Half&Half
  • 4 oz. Bacon
  • 3 Tbls Butter
  • 2 Tbls Flour
  • 2 Tbls minced onion
  • some garlic powder
  • some pepper
Fry the bacon in a largish skillet to done but not crumbly. Drain off the free flowing bacon drippings being careful to save all the tasty brown bits. (I am going to use the drippin's later today so I saved 'em.) Drain the potatoes and corn*. Reheat the skillet and deglaze (whoa, I finally got to use that word) with the potatoes and corn infusing them with the bacon brown bits goodness. Add 1 Tbls spoon of the minced onions and stir throughly.

Once the deglazing is done add the potatoes and corn to a small stock pot (Ha! The larger of the two sauce pans I have - the 2 quart size). Add the can of chicken stock and set on the back of the stove. No heat yet.

Rought chop the done bacon and add to the potato, corn and stock mixture. Stir it all together but no heat yet. Just let them get to know one another.

In the smaller sauce pan slowly melt the butter. (BTW we are making a roux here so go slow.) Add in 1 Tbls of the minced onions, 1/4 tsp of garlic powder and ground pepper to your taste. When the onions become tranlucent add the 2 Tbls of flour.

Keep a watchful eye on this new roux. Go slow. Keep the heat low. Stir often.

Personal preference note here: I say that my roux is ready when it is frothy with largerish bubbles and appears to have expanded in the bottom of the pan by 2 or 3 times. (It is imperative that all of the flour granuals are coated with the butter or you will end up with tiny dumplings instead of a smooth soup.)

CAREFULLY add the 2 cups of Half&Half to the very HOT roux. Leave the heat LOW. Stir and then leave it alone over low heat. (Notice the theme here?)

Editorial time-out: Cooking is a present process. I believe that it is important be fully present when cooking. Cooking is a primary activity, not something done while you are doing something else.

So even though it has taken some time the roux and Half&Half have joined to make the creamy base of our chowder. I say it is done when the mixture just barely begins to bubble around the edges of the sauce pan. You milage may vary.

Add the creamy sauce to the potatoes, corn and bacon. Put it over low heat and cover. Bring the entire mixture up to a simmer (very low boil). Remove the pan from the heat keeping it covered and let it rest. Excesive cooking will cause the potatoes to break down which isn't terribly bad but I like the little cubes.)

Bonus: That half a loaf of faux french bread on the second shelf of the fridge - you know the one - slice it thick on an angle. Brush each slice lightly with olive oil, sprinkle one side with a hint of garlic powder and the pan fry (toast) until both sides are slightly browned.

Simple Soup - does a human good!

* Oh yeah, almost forgot that asterisk. When I am making a strong savory soup I will sometimes add the potato and corn liquid right in pot. In the case of this chowder I feel that the corn flavor is just a bit too overwhelming.

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