Monday, January 21, 2008

Corn Chowder

This is another reprint from my personal blog.

Soup is...the Nectar of the Gods, as long as it's homemade and not out of a can. I'm not against the convenience, mind you... I just hate the taste and (especially) the texture. I categorically refuse to eat most soups that come from a can... the two exceptions being cream of mushroom as a sauce (always doctored up though) and clam chowder. None of that chicken-less Where's My One Soggy Noodle, Oh Yeah, I Forgot This Soup Is Only Made From Water-Out-Of-My-Own-Dang-Tap And Salt crap.

Hence, I must make my own. And I have to say that I make a mean corn chowder... so from my (mom's) kitchen to yours, Corn Chowder That Doesn't Suck.

(Disclaimer: I always make a huge ol' pot of this stuff, because we eat a lot, and we freeze some too... so if you don't have a huge family or a lot of boys, you may want to cut the amounts in half or something.)

(Disclaimer #2: I don't follow recipes (to my mother's sometime-grief, when I can't duplicate something that was fabulous last time I made it and this time looks (and tastes) like a reject from Fear Factor). I am also woefully bereft of the ability to be serious when instructing. So if this recipe doesn't make sense because I am rambling about it instead of Spouting My Wisdom Seriously As Betty Crocker Would Do, I'm sorry...I hope you can interpret pretty well. Good luck!)

The Really Real, For Reals, Recipe (With No More Disclaimers):

-2 packages of bacon, fried as crisp as you like it (my mom likes it more, I like it less crisp... it does get softer in the soup, a little bit, so take that into account).
-1 or 2 large onions, chopped up (but not too finely).
-12 to 15 red potatoes, diced in a chunky fashion. This soup is all about the chunks.
-3 zucchinis, sliced about, I don't know, 1/4" thick or thereabouts.
-2 summer squash, if you can get your hands on it, sliced the same as the zucchini.
-A medium spoonful of minced garlic (I don't know about you, but we're all about the big jar around these parts. I hate pressing garlic with a passion. I suppose if you wanted to use fresh, it would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 cloves).
-A small handful of dried rosemary
-A wee bit of sage
-Some cardamom, if you've got it. I put cardamom in everything, because I'm obsessed with it.
-1 quart of half-n-half (diet food, this ain't).

So you cook the bacon and let it drain on some paper towels. Save some of the grease (or, if that grosses you out, just use a little Pam or somethin'-somethin' to lube the pan with) and cook the onions until they are nicely browned.

Meanwhile, boil the potato chunks until they are pretty soft (they'll soften up some when you add the rest of the stuff, but I often make the mistake of undercooking them, and then they're a little crunchy. It's much better to err on the too-soft side, as this just make it creamier). Drain most of it (leave an inch or two in the bottom so you can steam the veg on top).

Add the onions (nicely browned) to the potatoes and stir. Rub the rosemary between your hands to crush it, and drop that into the pot. Plop some garlic in there. Sprinkle the sage (about a teaspoon) and the cardamom (2 tsps, maybe... I cook to taste. I'm horrible about following recipes!) on there and stir it in. Crumble (if you made it crisp) or cut up (if you didn't) your bacon and stir that in there too.

Load the zucchini and the summer squash on top (stir every now and then so the potatoes don't start sticking to the bottom) and cook 'em until they're softish.

When everything looks cooked through, pour in the half-n-half until everything can move fairly freely. Your whole soup is now cold, so let it heat back up, but don't let it boil, since milk and boiling aren't the tightest of friends.

I sometimes stir in a little bit of flour to thicken it up, but mostly I just enjoy it how it is. It's a hearty soup, and even with just some plain bread and butter or rolls or something, it's a great meal.

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