Peggy’s corn, pepper, and potato chowder
I mentioned the other day that my dear friend, Peggy, and I went to lunch and the she had a corn chowder that she loved and wanted to recreate at home. After much tweaking, tasting, and retweaking – I think I finally got it!
One issue I was having was the viscosity of the soup. Mine was not as thick as the restaurant’s version. I’m sure the chef used heavy cream and I didn’t want to go there… so I used my standard fat free half-and-half. And although it lends a nice richness to the chowder, it won’t add that thick consistency. There are two options to get there; the first is to do as I did and make a paste of softened butter and flour to thicken the mixture, this is called a Beurre Manié. It is similar to a roux, but unlike a roux, it is not cooked until added to the dish. The second and healthier way would be to take a portion of the solids (about 1/4 to 1/3 of the solids in this case) from the soup just before serving and puree in either a food processor or a bender, then stir that back into the soup. Honestly, that is the technique I generally use, but I thought it would be useful to demonstrate and explain the Beurre Manié this time.
Corn, Pepper, and Potato Chowder Murrietta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups frozen roasted corn kernels, thawed (available at Trader Joe’s)
1 red or orange bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 poblano pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
14.75-ounce can cream-style corn
2 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
4 cups fat free half-and-half
1/2 cup minced cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Dash of Tabasco, if desired
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat, add olive oil and swirl pan to coat. Sauté onion, celery, garlic, and potatoes for 3 minutes, stirring often to prevent potatoes from sticking to pot. Mix in chili powder, thyme, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Continue to sauté until onions are soft and translucent, about 3 more minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together softened butter and flour to form a paste, stir into pot and cook 3 minutes, stirring to cook the raw taste out of the flour. Mix in the corn, bell and poblano peppers.
Add chicken stock, cream corn, and tomatoes, stir to combine, and simmer 20 to 30 minutes. Just before serving, stir in half-and-half and cilantro and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add Tabasco, if desired for more heat.