Thanks to hurricane Sandy, we are all hunkered down inside enjoying a very rare lazy afternoon. With the constant sound of chilling rain pelting the house, it seemed like a good day for a hearty bowl of soup.
Not wanting to leave the house, I used staples I found in the freezer and pantry. Feel free to make your own adjustments depending on what you have on hand. For pasta I used mini conchiglie (sea shells), but a ditali or elbow chifferi pasta would work as well.
You can use either pork or lamb sausage. And by all means, substitute in fresh herbs if you have them. This recipe can also be easily made into a hearty vegetarian dish if you prefer.
I absolutely love soup and enjoy fixing it year round. I consider it the ultimate lunch, regardless of whether it is a light fare or approaching a hearty stew. Pair soup with a rustic bread and a green salad and dinner is served.
Sweet corn being one of my favorite seasonal vegetables and the very essence of summer, I couldn’t wait to create this easy summertime chowder. Growing up on dairy farms, both Corey’s and my family use to plant acres and acres of corn for silage for the milk cows. Unfortunately field corn is not the same as sweet corn. It is exponentially tougher and without the sweet, tender flavor that makes even the most proper of us eat it like we are manual typewriters. The solution? Our families always planted two rows of sweet corn around the outside of the corn fields.
I typically use a chicken stock as the base for most of my chowders, but for this yummy summer soup, I decided to kick up the flavor with a homemade corn broth. Should you prefer, you can always substitute low salt chicken stock for the corn stock.
Place corn in a large pan, add enough water to cover. Boil for ten minutes. Remove corn, let cool. Reserve water.
Once the corn is cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife and cut corn off the cob. Use the back of your knife and run the knife up and down the cob to remove the last bits of corn clinging to the cob. Put corn in a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to use. Use cobs to make corn stock (see below).
Slice bacon into 1” pieces. Add to large soup pan and cook over medium heat. Cook until bacon is crisp but not burnt. Remove half of the bacon and set aside for garnish. If there is more than 2-3 tablespoons of grease in the pan, drain extra grease.
Add celery and onions. Cook until soft. Add thyme to mixture and stir for 1 minute allowing herb to infuse oils in pan.
Add corn, potatoes, and stock to pan (if necessary add chicken stock to corn stock to make approximately 7 cups). Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender.
Once potatoes are tender add cream. Continue cooking over low heat until warm. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Place chowder in bowls. Top with fresh diced tomatoes, bacon, and basil.
Excellent in soups, risotto, or any recipe calling for vegetable stock.
Cream tends to curdle if add to piping hot stock. This can be prevented by tempering the cream. First place cream in a large bowl. Add a small amount of hot soup slowly and stir. Continue adding small amounts until cream is the same temperature as the soup. Once warm, add to the soup.
The heavier the cream the less likely it will be to curdle. If you need to reheat soup later, remember to heat over low heat slowly as heating too fast can cause the cream to break.
Due to the cream and potatoes, this soup does not hold up well to freezing.
To make Corn Stock you will need:
Reserved water (see above)
6 corn cobs, kernels removed
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs of thyme
Add corn cobs to the reserved water from cooking corn. Add additional water if necessary so that cobs are covered. Add bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorn. Simmer over medium heat for 1½ hours.
Strain, discard solids, and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
Corn stock is excellent in soups, risotto, or any recipe calling for vegetable stock.
There is nothing better than having pints and quarts of chicken stock in the freezer for a quick pot of soup, a pan of gravy, or for making risotto. It’s easy to do and doesn’t take much extra effort.I make it regularly now for farmers markets, but it has been a regular staple in my freezer for years. Whenever you have leftover chicken carcasses put them in a ziplock bag and throw them in the freezer. When you get 2 or 3 follow the simple recipe below.
Bones from 2-3 whole chickens
1 medium onion
4 carrots peeled and cut in half
4 celery stalks cut in half
2 smashed whole garlic cloves
3-4 springs of thyme
3-4 springs of parsley
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon of whole black peppercorn
Add everything to a stock pot and cover with enough cold water to completely cover chicken plus 2 additonal inches. Start on medium low heat until pot begins to steam but not boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 6-8 hours or overnight.
When stock is ready, let cool slightly and then double strain to remove bones, vegetables, and herbs.
I find that I have the best flavor if I properly season the chicken before roasting and add the chicken skins to the stock pot. If you like your stock a bit darker and more intense, try roasting your chicken on a bed of vegetables and add these to the stock pot as well.
If you decide to add the chicken skin to your stock you will see an increase in fat. As a rule, I do not skim the fat off my stock before freezing. First, I think it helps to preserve the flavors of the stock while in the freezer. And second, it is much easier to remove when I take the stock out of the freezer and before it thaws.
Next time you purchase whole broilers from Virginia Lamb… remember save those bones! In no time you will have your own great tasting chicken stock in the freezer!