Though I love to cook, some nights I just don’t feel like cooking at all. On those occasions, I rely on favorite recipes that are easy to make and that we all like, such as Potato Cheese Corn Chowder, my version of a classic country soup.
Before I start in on the recipe, here’s a photo of the beautiful potatoes that I used to make this soup: five very fresh, German Butterball potatoes that had just been dug from my sister’s garden a few days earlier. (The onions are from the supermarket.)
My sister is The Maine Potato Lady – check out her catalog for organic seed potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots, and other earth-friendly products. http://www.mainepotatolady.com/
These were the freshest potatoes I’ve ever cooked with. They had not yet been cured for storage, and their thin, delicate skins would have come off if I had scrubbed too hard. I rinsed them thoroughly, but didn’t need to scrub them. When you’re cooking with potatoes, leave the skins on whenever you can; the skins add flavor, texture, and valuable nutrients.
Potato Cheese Corn Chowder
Place a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. While the pot is heating, chop a half-pound of thick-cut bacon into pieces about ¾” square. This is easiest to do if the bacon is frozen or slightly thawed. Throw the chopped bacon into the pan and stir it to separate the pieces. If it’s still partially frozen, that’s OK; it will thaw very quickly. Stirring frequently, cook the bacon until it crisp. [I forgot to start taking photos until after the bacon was already cooked.]
While the bacon is cooking, chop two large onions into small pieces, ½” or so.
Remove the pan from the heat (so that the fat does not smoke), and using a slotted spoon, remove the crisped bacon to a bowl, and set it aside. (Try not to nibble too much of it.)
Leave the bacon fat in the pot:
Return the pot to the heat, and add the chopped onions to the bacon fat:
Adjust the heat to medium, and cook the onions until they are soft, but do not let them start to brown. The brown color here is entirely from the bacon fat:
While the onions are cooking, chop five medium-sized potatoes into pieces of 1” or less. Have ready some bay leaves and two or three branches of fresh thyme.
When the onions are soft, add the potatoes, the herbs, and 1-2 cups of well-flavored chicken stock to the onions. It’s hard to give an exact amount for the stock, since the moisture content of the potatoes will vary depending on their freshness. Just be sure that the potatoes are covered while they are cooking; it's easy to add more liquids later.
Cover the pot and cook over medium or medium-low heat until the potatoes are soft.
While the potatoes are cooking, cut up some extra-sharp cheddar cheese. This is Cabot brand, which I think is the best on the market:
How much cheese? At least a cup, and if you like your soup very cheesy, you might use up to two cups. (When it comes time to add the cheese later, start with just one cup, and add more if desired.)
When the potatoes are cooked, crush them a little with a potato masher; leave some lumps of potato.
Stir in the cheese and let it all melt together. Add one can of creamed corn. (I know it’s junky, and I don’t care; it's the perfect flavor and texture for this soup. If you prefer, use two cups of frozen corn, thawed and drained.)
Stir in plenty of freshly-ground black pepper…
…and what's left of the the reserved bacon...
...and let the mixture heat for a few moments. This recipe makes a fairly thick chowder; if you prefer a thinner consistency, add some milk now, a little at a time until it's as thin as you like. Because the bacon and sharp cheddar are salty, you may find that you won’t need to add any extra salt. Taste before salting.
Chopped fresh parsley makes a lovely garnish; I did not have any on hand on the night that I made this soup, so here it is, unadorned:
While the soup was cooking, I stirred up these Carrot-Raisin Muffins:
All my recipes may be viewed here:
They are further organized as follows, with some overlap:
Main Dishes http://quodlibet-sarah.blogspot.com/search/label/Recipes%20Main%20Dishes
Soups and Stews http://quodlibet-sarah.blogspot.com/search/label/Recipes%20Soups