Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ina Garten's Hearty Cheddar Corn Chowder & Quick Corn Bread


I was so relieved to see that Jill, from My Next Life did not choose another cake recipe for this week's recipe choice for the Barefoot Bloggers!  I'm a Soupaholic, but only when the California temperatures dip low enough. As it turned out, I made this on a Sunday when the weather made it's first appearance as overcast skies and possible rain showers.  I own The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, where this recipe can be found.

When I glanced at the photo my immediate thought was that the soup in the photo was too thin to be a chowder.  I removed some frozen homemade chicken stock-- which I never salt, by the way. I prefer to season my soups, not the stock! I defrosted 2 quarts in the microwave.


Soups, to me, are the easiest recipes to make. Honestly, I have not purchased a can of ready-made soup in several years!  I believe that the secret to good soup is to brown the vegetables, season it with herbs, add the vegetables and either homemade stock or commercial stock.  The only ingredient I had to buy for this recipe was fresh corn.  I decided that I really didn't need to measure for this recipe, but I decided to cut back on the quantities of ingredients by about half.


Here's a little trick that I use to cut fresh corn-- I grab one of my small nest bowls, flip it upside down inside a larger bowl and cut the kernels with a sharp knife. The kernels don't fly all over the place and the corn is ready to be blanched in boiling water.  (Some people use a bundt pan in a similar way). I used six ears of corn for this recipe.



I dipped a strainer into the pot and blanch these for about three minutes and set the corn aside to drain.


Now, for the bacon. I have started storing my bacon in the freezer. Using a sturdy and sharp knife, I cut the bacon into thin slices/julienne style-- or "lardons" as the French call it.

My lardons came to a little over four ounces. Frozen bacon not only slices easily, but it cooks up great, by the way.


In a Dutch Oven, I used a little bit of olive oil and browned the bacon until crispy. Now, it's time to use the bacon fat to cook the vegetables.

I did add a small pat of unsalted butter to the fat and cooked two chopped onions-- and I decided to add one chopped red pepper for color. I sauteed them with the tumeric. If you don't use tumeric, try it sometime! I don't think it adds flavor, but it gives food a pretty yellow color. I add a bit of tumeric to my white rice, sometimes, and it looks so pretty. All those brown bits in the pan-- flavor!  I added the chicken stock and I added chopped Yukon Gold potatoes, because they are always in my pantry. Once the veggies were cooked (about 15 minutes) I added the corn and sharp cheddar (I didn't use white cheddar because I had lots of yellow cheddar in my fridge). I added about 1/4 cup of half & half.

I gave the soup a taste and I thought it was bland! It was missing something. So, I added a little bit of dried thyme.  I tasted it... better, but still boring. I decided to add a little cayenne, but then I spotted my "flavor bomb". I love this stuff!

Old Bay Seasoning! Please tell me you use this wonderful blend of spices! On the can it says:
CELERY SALT (SALT, CELERY SEED), SPICES (INCLUDING MUSTARD, RED PEPPER, BLACK PEPPER, BAY [LAUREL] LEAVES, CLOVES, ALLSPICE [PIMENTO], GINGER, MACE, CARDAMOM, CINNAMON) AND PAPRIKA.. I use Old Bay Seasoning in my egg salad, too.

I added about 1 teaspoon, stirred it and this was it!  This was my secret ingredient to Ina's recipe, and I loved it.

Still, I though the soup was to thin for a chowder, so I grabbed my other secret ingredient. To thicken soup, I prefer potato starch flour over regular flour.  The best way to use this is to temper it-- in a bowl I started with 2 Tablespoons and added some hot soup and whisked it together.


I realized that I really wanted a bread with this soup-- at the last minute. I quickly made a batch of my skillet corn bread and some honey butter to go with it. Hey, I'm a Yankee, so I like sweet cornbread! I also made a side salad to complete the meal.

Now, for a garnish of bacon...

Ah, a hearty and thick chowder, with...

Hot cornbread and honeybutter...

Heaven! The sweet corn is still a reminder that summer wasn't that long ago... and I'll tell you that this soup tasted even better than the day before.  I think that the Old Bay Seasoning took the flavor of this soup up another notch. Do you hear me, Ina?

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28 comments:

Snowbell said...

Wow, gorgeous pictures!

Here's mine

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Great photo of the chowder (soups and chowders are hard to photograph and you did a marvelous job). Good tip on using the potato starch. I'm a big cornbread fan, but I'm from the south and I'm not fond of the sweet Yankee (I married one so I can say this) style with the sugar. We use only a pinch of sugar.

Always enjoy when you post Ina's recipes. She's the best.
Sam

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Ah, the bacon garnish looks so wonderful, as does the soup! I'm a great fan of corn soup, sometimes seasoned with a touch of chipolte. And, I just recently learned the "freeze the bacon" trick, and it works great - who knew?

Kim said...

I loved your tip about freezing bacon. I usually keep one package in freezer and one in the fridge. I'll have to keep them both in there now !! The soup looks yummy. I could use some on this cold morning we're having :D

Stacey Snacks said...

I agree Deb, homemade stock is key.
We both have soups on today!

chocolatechic said...

I just added half the amount of liquid called for, so I wouldn't have to add any more starch.

Yours looks fabulous.

Kate said...

Debby, it looks wonderful! I am going to have to try your "secret ingredient"! I made mine at 5:30 yesterday morning...it came together quickly.

jill Buker said...

I love your changes!! Thanks for cooking with me this week.

Nina's said...

Your chowder looks great! Love your tip about the frozen bacon. The photos are terrific!

TKW said...

I'm going to try your secret ingredient! Mine came out good, but not great. I think this might help!

Danielle said...

now here's a soup I don't think I've ever had...and I don't know why. With the corn bread and honey butter....omg!!! I'm wanting some right now!!!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I love anything Ina Garten makes and this chowder looks very inviting. Thanks for all the cooking tips - that potato starch is a new one on me.

Yudith said...

Interesting substitutions, I have to keep that in mind for future references. Gorgeous pics, nice website, thanks for stopping by! I will come back and check out what else you're cooking up in the kitchen ;-) P.s.: Yes, I was a little bit underwhelmed by the 2 cakes last month.

Donna-FFW said...

Oh how absolutely delicious. I want it just the way you showed it in the last photo... heaven on earth!

Shelly W said...

It looks so wonderful, Debby! I love your step-by-step photos. You have an awesome blog :)

bella said...

Hi Debby, I loved this post on fresh home-made soup....I can't wait until the weather is a bit cooler to devour some fabulous soup! Still around 85 here. I grew up with nothing but homemade soup; however, I've never tried the Old Bay Spice and need to get some! Thanks for the tip! PS...I have another award for you on last week's post along with your 'comment' thought! ~ Roz

Monica H said...

I love fresh corn on and off the cob, especially roasted and drizzled with butter. And while I think corn is an amazing vegetable I do not like it in other foods. I think it's a texture thing.

I do however love sweet cornbread!

Me! said...

Note to self: Next batch, add clams and old bay seasoning.

I have a can of old bay but i never use it!

Great pictures and hints.

Proud Italian Cook said...

I have a can of old bay, but don't use it as much as I should, it does have a ton of great ingredients. As for the potato starch, that's new to me so thanks for the tio on that. Your soup looks amazing, as well as all your photo's. I made a potato corn chowder yesterday, it's cold and dreary here.

frockandfork said...

That soup looks absolutely amazing! Kudos to you, Debby, for fantastic photos and visual instructions.

susan said...

Like you, I love soup--just about all soup and this sounds delicious! Thanks for the tip on cutting corn. I try to do it outside whenever possible, but this will work for the winter! Great pictures!

sherri said...

Wonderful tastes- beautiful photos.

I am enjoying soup several nights each week right now. I cannot get enough!

Kate said...

Hellooo? Is this my long lost cousin? Hello from Northern California, where we finally got soup weather up here this week as well, and, soup is my favorite thing to cook, and, I too hate canned soup, and, I make my own stock, and and and.... I'm so glad to find your blog!

teresa said...

oh wow, this looks just amazing! your blog is lovely!

cookies and cups said...

That is my most favorite recipe for corn chowder and have been making it for years! Gorgeous pics!!

lakegirl said...

Chowder looks so good. Cornbread is one of my favorites! Your blog is great, nice pictures, too!

bridget {bake at 350} said...

Oh my, that look delicious...and perfect for cooler weather!

Tonya @ What's On My Plate said...

I love your modifications!! I was happy with the flavour of the soup but could definitely see it being even better with some Old Bay.