I’m not sure what makes certain soups a “chowder” and others just soup. I Google’d “chowder” and learned it came from the French word for hot water but that didn’t help me much! Regardless, since I had some leftover “sticky chicken“(cooked at a normal roasting temperature) from Saturday night, I made up some chicken and corn chowder with it.
I know when I started out cooking I had to follow recipes exactly, buying weird ingredients I might use once (since I didn’t cook much anyway!) and measuring carefully. Now I look at recipes as an inspiration rather than a set of directions, as guidance rather than procedure. For example, the original recipe called for chicken broth but I used mostly a very quick vegetable broth instead. Also, the original recipe called for cooking up a specific amount of bacon, then taking the bacon out and throwing out most of the grease and then cooking the onions and peppers in it. Ahem. Why not just start with some bacon grease from the can in fridge? (You do save your bacon grease don’t you? If you don’t want it, your dog will love a spoonful of it on his dry kibble! But try frying up some potatoes in some one morning before you give it all to your dog.) Anyway, I’m not only cheap I’m lazy too–or as my friends say “very efficient!” The idea of cooking up bacon to get the grease and then throwing out the cooked bacon seems a bit strange but perhaps that’s what the gourmands do…I wouldn’t know. I’d either toss the cooked bacon up on top of the soup or just use some of the grease from my can and save both money and time.
So if you want to put the bacon in the soup or serve as a topping, dice up 4-5 slices or so first and drain on a paper towel when crisp, then drain the pan, leaving about 1/8 cup of grease in it. (If you’re a beginning cook and don’t know a lot about plumbing, a brief reminder not to throw the extra down your sink, as it will harden and clog up the pipes eventually. I usually keep a washed out food can under my sink for hot fat like this and drain into that, leaving it on the counter until I do the dishes, by which time it’s usually hardened and can be thrown away safely in your garden without making a big mess or starting a fire in your garbage can.)
So here’s what I did–and it is delicious!
Chicken and Corn Chowder
- 2-3 Tbs bacon grease or butter or oil or some combination
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 Tbs flour
- 5 cups broth vegetable or chicken
- 2 cups peeled, seeded, butternut squash in 1/2″ cubes
- 1 potato, peeled and chopped
- 1 tsp thyme
- 16 ounces frozen corn kernels or fresh if you have it!
- 1/2 cup milk or half and half or cream, depending on your decadence level
- 1-2 cups cooked leftover roast chicken, chopped
- 1 cup chopped green onions, plus more for garnish
- 3-4 springs fresh parsley, chopped
- Heat the bacon grease and cook the onion and half the red pepper about 10 minutes, until soft.
- Add the flour and cook, stirring, another 2 minutes or so.
- Add the broth, squash, potato, and thyme and mix. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer about 10 minutes, until the squash and potato are soft.
- Stir in the corn, milk, and the rest of the bell pepper and cook about 10 more minutes. Stir in the chicken, green onions, and parsley and simmer 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the bacon and more green onions.
The original recipe called for cilantro but mine never took off this year for some reason, whereas I have a huge plot of parsley so I use that freely in most everything these days. It is wonderful having it fresh just out the door. But if you don’t have a garden spot, buy it fresh and stick it in a glass of water in the fridge and it will keep quite a while.
This has so far served the 3 of us (1 adult, 2 children) for 2 meals with plenty left for my lunches this week. I served it as more of a main dish last night with some pasta and just a cup before the main dinner tonight. I really like the squash in it and it is a beautiful soup to look at.
* Frugal note: Both onions and peppers can be chopped and frozen when they are on sale, then pulled out for cooking as needed. They will not be good fresh as they will lose their crispness but they’re great for stuff like this. I used the last of my frozen bell peppers for this alas.