This past winter, I found a recipe for Cheddar Corn Chowder, from the wonderful Food Network Chef, Ina Garten (you know, The Barefood Contessa). Every month, when I made my weekly menus, I would look at this recipe and then pass it by. For some reason, "corn chowder" just didn't sound good to me. I had never eaten it and didn't really know anyone else who had either. After reading the reviews on the Food Network site, I decided to go for it. Wow! I can't believe I waited so long to try it! This is definitely one of my top three favorite soups! Creamy, cheesy, and topped with bacon! Who can resist?
I will first post a version I adapted from Ina Garten, which is wonderful and then I will post my version, which has a kick of spiciness and chicken. My husband gives it five stars. Both recipes will yeild a very large pot of soup, just to warn you. In my house, it doesn't last long and the leftovers are delicious. I definitely recommend trying both versions and judging for yourself.
Cheesy Corn Chowder Part I
- 8 ounces uncooked bacon, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil (I use extra-virgin olive oil)
- 6 cups chopped yellow onions (about 4 regular sized onions)
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 cups chicken stock or broth
- 4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and diced
- 10 cups of corn kernals (10 ears if using fresh corn or 3 pounds of frozen-I use frozen)
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1/2 pound of shredded cheese (use what you like: cheddar, white cheddar, or my favorite colby-jack!)
In a large pot over medium heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper-towel lined plate. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the pot and bacon grease and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are transulcent.
Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
If using fresh corn, cut the kernals off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. (Blanching means to cook them in boiling water for a short time. You will put the corn kernals in the boiling water for just 3 minutes, then remove the corn or drain the water right away. You don't want to cook them any longer.) If you use frozen corn, which I do, skip the blanching step and simply pour your still-frozen corn into the soup.
Add the half-and-half and cheese. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper to suit your taste. Serve with a garnish of the crispy cooked bacon.
Serves 10 to 12 servings
Adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, 1999