Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Only Corn Chowder Recipe You'll Ever Need


As I've mentioned once this week already, I've been yearning for summer flavors. Nothing says golden sunsets and warm breezes like crisp corn on the cob - and you can actually still find it in the store. Maybe not sweet enough to eat straight away, but you can still get a tasty chowder out of it, and it sure beats frozen nubbles of chewy corn that just don't deserve to exist.

Summer is time for the lighter more pure soups, like my "Sunset Sweet Corn", but winter calls for heavier soups that eat like a meal. I figured chowder could pull double duty, since it still makes me think of days eating fried scallops by the seaside in Gloucester, but is hearty enough as a main course on a cold winter day.

Dinosaur in Syracuse (hope they don't mind I stole their facebook pic!)
I've actually had a particular recipe for corn chowder from Dinosaur BBQ in my playbook for years. Being that I am an SU alum, and spent many a happy day at DBQ in downtown Syracuse, I tend to put a lot of stock in anything John Stage comes up with. Long before I earned my reputation as the soup-queen around here, I had this recipe printed, protected, and bound like the word of God.

I made this bacon intensive Dino recipe at a dinner once for my carnivorous friends, and they barely made it to the main course after insisting on 2nd's of the chowder. I think I even made something as delicious as pork chops, but I really can't remember and I'm sure no one else does either - since the chowder was the STAR. No one even seemed to care that we were six of us dining in my 6'x8' studio apartment entryway at a folding table, some of us using my coffee tables as chairs.

Along with my living situation, the years have seen the Dino chowder formula evolve. I've become aware that bell peppers don't agree with me - for which reason you may never see a bell pepper on this blog. When I read a recipe now, I see "celery" instead of "green bell peppers" and "tomatoes" in place of "red bell peppers", and it seems to work just fine. Now the time has come for more revisions, with my vegetarian husband in the picture and the advent of really good tasting fakin' bacon.


 The keys to this amazing chowder that keep you going back for another and another bowl, are cayenne and bacon. The reason I refer to it as "the only corn chowder recipe you'll ever need" is because it tastes as good as the meaty, fatty version, but can please anyone - vegetarian or not. That, and my husband says it tastes "GANGSTA"!

Vegetarian Corn Chowder with Fakin' Bacon
2 T unsalted butter
3 slices Morningstar Farms Veggie Bacon strips
1 medium sweet onion, finely diced (about 1 C)
2 large celery stalks, finely diced (about 1 C)
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 T flour
4 C organic vegetable stock
4 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2" pieces (3-4 C)
2 large carrots, peeled and diced (about 1-1/2 C)
2 C fresh corn, sliced from 2-3 cobs
1 C heavy cream
1/4 tsp cayenne powder (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Kosher salt & ground black pepper to taste

1. Melt the butter in a soup pot and get it nice and hot. Place the bacon strips into the butter and cook about 1 minute on each side until browned and stiff. Remove, cool and chop into small pieces.

2. Add the onions and celery to the hot butter and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic  and cook another minute. Add the flour and stir to coat everything and absorb the butter.

3. Add the potatoes, carrots and stock to the pot. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer for 10 minutes, checking to make sure the potatoes are tender. Add the corn and simmer another 5-10 minutes. 

4. Pour in the heavy cream and season with thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir in the bacon bits. They almost seem like real bacon in the soup - and give it an amazing smoky flavor that's even better the 2nd and 3rd day.


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