Creamy, Chile, Chowder
Given a choice, Mr. Alfa would either eat something creamy or pasta-riffic every day of the week. I’m not a huge fan of cream sauces or anything milky, in general. I love pasta, but geez, once a week is plenty.
I do love chiles, though. Mr. Alfa, on the other hand, is a chile wuss. Except for chipotles. For some reason, those don’t bother him. So I sneak them into anything possible, including pasta and the random creamy dish. Hey, I’m all about compromise in a relationship!
I am not about compromise in the kitchen, though. I want good ingredients, especially in recipes with very few of them. The fewer the ingredients, the better they need to be. And the more flavor you have to squeeze out of them.
This chowder really has just a few simple ingredients. So, it’s important to select those ingredients carefully and prepare them as best you can. That also means its a very flexible recipe–if you really like turkey bacon, go for it. Got Idaho potatoes instead of red potatoes? Knock yourself out. Got plain corn, instead of roasted? I won’t try to stop you.
Just don’t skip the chipotles. They’re the key to the balance of flavors.
(It’s the 100th edition of the BSI challenge and this is my entry. I won two weeks ago, and am hoping to repeat. Wish me luck.)
Chipotle Chicken Corn Chowder
4 slices of bacon, diced (I really like smoky bacon, like uncured Applewood smoked bacon, for this dish)
1 lg onion or 4-5 shallots, diced fine
1-2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
64 oz. chicken broth or stock
About 8 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced into medium chunks
18 oz. (about 6 cups) corn (roasted corn is really the best here; I either use fresh or Trader Joe’s frozen roasted sweet corn)
1 sprig of fresh thyme, or 1-2 tsps dried
1 lb (approx) cooked chicken, roughly chopped (I used chicken breast)
3-4 canned chipotles in adobo
2 cans fat free evaporated milk
1-2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
S&P to taste
- Heat up a large soup pot or dutch oven over high heat. Once it’s hot, add a tiny drizzle of olive oil and the bacon. Drop the heat to medium, and cook the bacon until it’s as crispy as you like it.
- Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove all but about 1 tbsp of the fat from the pan. Add the onions or shallots, and saute until they’re translucent.
- Add the flour, stir to combine. Once the flour is mixed in, add the wine and scrape up any of the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Add all the chicken stock, the potatoes, the corn, the thyme, salt & pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil.
- Once the soup reaches a boil, lower the heat back down and keep the soup at a solid simmer until the potatoes are cooked through (about 15-20 minutes.
- Ladle about 2 cups of the soup into a blender and puree the heck out of it. Add this back to the pot and stir to mix through.
- Add the chicken to the soup now, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Put one can of the evaporated milk and as many chipotles (but not the adobe sauce) as you like in the blender. Three gave the soup some mild heat and a good amount of smokiness. Puree the heck out of this, then add it into the soup.
- Pour the other can of evaporated milk into the soup, and raise the heat to afterburner. Watch it carefully and keep stirring. The second big fat bubbles start rising to the surface, drop the heat back down to a gentle simmer.
- Simmer for about 10-15 minutes to heat through and thicken some. Adjust the seasoning, and add the smoked paprika now, if you want more smokiness.
- Ladle it into big bowls, top with the reserved bacon, and enjoy.
Makes about 8 dinner servings (6 if you’re feeding Mr. Alfa)
**Note: This isn’t a pudding thick kind of chowder. I don’t like that. If you do, though, you could use starchier potatoes and more of them. And puree more of them to thicken up the soup.