“Beautiful soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!”
~Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
It’s finally cold enough here in New Jersey to actually feel like winter. This sudden drop in temperature has restored my children’s hope for snow, made it feel like a proper football season for my husband and his beloved Giants and inspired me to haul out the “big pot” and cook up something hearty and comforting. Normally this pot if mine churns out great vats of red sauce, steaming pots of chicken soup and a killer turkey chili. But last weekend was so crazy cold that I wanted to make something really rich, soothing and wonderful. Something that would not only fill my family’s bellies but also warm them right down to their toes. After much browsing, googling and serious debate I finally decided on the meal to make: Chicken-Corn Chowder topped with aged cheddar cheese and served with a side of cornbread. Makes you feel toasty just thinking about it doesn’t it? I have to say it was pretty fantastic. So good in fact that a few nights later, when I gave the kids the choice between leftover chowder and pan-fried grouper (normally a Greco kid favorite) the chowder won, hands down!
Ordinarily I would jump to the recipes at this point, but I think I have a bit of housekeeping to do first. When I began this blog I told you that I’m not a food snob. And while I still consider this to be true I feel I should amend that declaration a tad. There is something that has zero room in my little food world. What you may ask? Well I’ll tell you… canned creamed corn. Yup, that slimy yellow mush we all remember from the 70’s. (I believe that must of been it’s heyday.) Anyway it’s still out there on the store shelves and it happens to be called for in both my chowder and cornbread recipes. I however refuse to support the canned cream corn industry and instead make my creamed corn from scratch. Stop rolling your eyes, it seriously takes all of 10 minutes to make and is so insanely delicious that I couldn’t get my family to stop eating it right out of the pan. If you insist on using the canned variety, so be it. But I promise you, the minimal effort required to make it yourself is well worth the yummy payoff.
Chicken-Corn Chowder with Aged Cheddar
This recipe can easily be halved, but my feeling is if you’re going to take the time to make soup you might as well make enough for leftovers.
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 cups homemade creamed corn (see recipe below)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3 3/4 cups low fat milk
2 cans of navy beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
2-3 cups shredded aged cheddar cheese, for topping
- Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat, add the onion and bell pepper and sauté until the onion is transparent and the peppers are fragrant, about 5-10 minutes.
- Add the creamed corn, smoked paprika, cumin, milk, heavy cream and beans. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat, cover and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in chicken, season with additional salt and pepper to taste and allow to continue simmering until chicken is heated through.
- Ladle into bowls, top with aged cheddar and serve with a side of cornbread.
*adapted from Kerrygold.com
Homemade Creamed Corn
1 medium onion, diced
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1lb. bag of frozen corn, defrosted
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. yellow cornmeal
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups low fat milk
- In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the onion and salt until the onion is translucent.
- Add the corn and the rosemary sprig and cook for 3 minutes or until the rosemary begins to go limp. Remove the rosemary, sprinkle the corn with the sugar and cornmeal and stir to combine well. Cook for 1 minute then add the heavy cream and milk. Cook for another 5 minutes, until the corn has softened and the mixture has thickened.
- Use an immersion blender to puree a bit of the corn mixture to give it more of a canned consistency. (A food processor or blender would also work.)
- Give the corn a final stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve or set aside for later use.
*adapted from Alton Brown
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup brown rice or AP flour
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup creamed corn (homemade or canned)
1/2 stick butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
- Preheat oven to 400°F and grease an 8×8 square baking dish.
- In a large bowl stir together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, melted butter and creamed corn.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out into an even layer.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and a toothpick in the center comes out clean.