I’m a soup freak.
I can’t pass up a bowl of hot miso soup filled with those miniature tofu blocks at Japanese restaurants. I crave tomato bisque, especially when paired with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich (or, better yet, Baby Goldfish crackers). And I actually enjoy getting sick and being fed a bowl of Campbell’s chicken and rice soup.
But truth be told: I’ve never actually made soup before.
I know, I know. I hear from my friends — and my mom! — how easy it is. I know people who make soup in their Vitamix blenders.
But despite my affection for soup, it’s just not something I’ve been dying to make.
Until this past Thanksgiving.
Since I don’t normally make the turkey — that’s my mom’s job — I like to come up with different, sometimes creative side dishes to share with my very discerning family.
So I settled on corn chowder, one of my mom’s favorite soups and something she rarely cooks herself. (Well, apple doesn’t fall very far, now does it?)
It also happens to be one of my favorite soups, too, but it’s not one that’s easily found on restaurant menus.
So I decided to make it myself.
And to be honest, it’s really not that hard.
There are tons of recipes online for this thick, cream-based soup, some including cheddar cheese, others with hot chiles. Most call for fresh corn, sliced right off the cob. And while that would be amazing — can you imagine Kahuku corn chowder? — I didn’t have time.
So instead, I decided to make a version of corn chowder with bacon.
Because who doesn’t love bacon?
Here’s what I did:
In a soup pot — I used a Le Creuset cast-iron round dutch oven — heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until it’s crisp, maybe about 5 minutes. Then remove with a slotted spoon and put in a separate bowl.
To the bacon fat, add chopped onions, celery, garlic and potatoes until soft. (You really want the potatoes to break down.) It’s important to chop your veggies small and around the same size. Dusk the vegetables with flour and mix thoroughly.
Add a whole can of chicken broth and then stir in some fresh, minced thyme. (Fresh herbs are always better and more flavorful than dried.)
I used a reduced-salt stock, which meant I had to adjust how much salt I added to the soup. You can probably use a vegetable stock instead, though I wouldn’t swap chicken broth with beef.
Now here’s where my recipe diverges with many others. I used Carnation evaporated milk, while most call for cream. It’s really your call. The evaporated milk keep the broth smooth, in my opinion, but less heavy than more cream-based versions.
To this mixture, add a whole bag of frozen corn. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes — or longer, if needed. Your veggies should be very soft.
Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with bacon and fresh parsley. And that’s it!
Here’s the recipe:
Bacon & Corn Chowder
4 slices of bacon, diced
1-2 T. butter
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium potato, sliced thin
1/2 T. fresh thyme, minced
1/4 c. flour
1 can chicken broth
1/2 can Carnation evaporated milk
8 ounces (1 bag) frozen corn
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook bacon until crisp, then remove and put in a separate bowl.
Sautée onions, celery, garlic and potatoes in bacon fat until soft. Sprinkle flour on vegetables and mix thoroughly. Add chicken broth. Stir in thyme. Add milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then add corn. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until thickened.
Garnish with bacon and fresh parsley.