Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Creamy Corn Chowder with Crab and Bacon

 I am really into soup. Like reeeeally into it. Between September and March I get a little bit obsessed. Soup is just everything food should be to me. A bowl of soup on a cold night is like a big hug. It is the only antidote to the rainy Vancouver weather. It is warming and nourishing and cozy. Soup can be anything you want it to be. It can be hearty and filling or healthy and light. Rich and indulgent or bright and refreshing. Another good thing about soup? Only one pot to wash!

And for couples/ families with conflicting schedules, soup makes life easy. I like to make a big pot on Sunday (or put it in the slow cooker on Sunday night to have on Monday). Keep some stuff for salads and
sandwiches or burritos on hand and it will feed us for most of the week.

That-boy-I-live-with isn’t a huge fan of soup; he tends to think they are more of a side dish than the main event. I take this as a challenge and try to make soups that are chunky and hearty one-pot meals in a bowl. When I ask if he likes whatever I made for dinner, he will always say that it is “fine”, regardless of how much he likes it. It’s when he goes back for seconds that I know I have won. One thing I will tell you is that he definitely went back for seconds of this.

It is usually bacon, potatoes, or cheese that will win him over. And this soup has 2 out of 3.

Creamy Chowder with Crab and Bacon
Makes 1 large pot (about 8 bowls)

The Jalapeno adds flavour and just a touch of spice. I am a wimp when it comes to heat, but if you like things hot, go ahead and add another pepper.  Cayenne pepper or hot sauce would work as well. Oh, and use real crab please? You will notice the difference, I promise (Psst... I got mine at Costco.I don't think it's Ocean-wise.Don't tell).


6 stips bacon, chopped
1 medium white onion, diced small
2 jalepeno peppers, deseeded and diced very small
3 cloves garlic, smashed or pressed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 tsp. Smoked paprika
¼ tsp. White pepper
2 cups red new potatoes – quartered (or 2 cups of any potato, chopped into rough chunks)
5 ears corn – cut off cobs
5-6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
220 grams (or ½ tub) cooked crab meat
1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream (yes, 1 whole cup)

  1. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped bacon to pot and saute until the bacon begins to crisp up and fat is rendered. Remove bacon bits with a slotted spoon, set them on a dish lined with paper towel to absorb fat, and set aside. 
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add onions. You can add a drizzle of olive oil here if you did not have a lot of bacon fat. When the onions are translucent, add the jalapeno, garlic, bell pepper and spices. I salted my soup here and did not salt it at the end. It is up to you when you do it.** 
  3. After about 5 minutes the onions should start to brown and the peppers will begin to cook. At this point add your chopped potatoes. Allow these to cook for a couple of minutes before adding the stock. ***
  4. Add the stock and corn and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are cooked though.
  5. Stir the crab meat into the pot and add the bacon back in as well.
  6. Just before serving, add the cream to the pot. Make sure your soup is not boiling when you do this or there is a chance it could curdle. I have never had this happen, but I have heard rumors. Add salt to taste, if necessary. 

Optional: Chop some fresh tomatoes and ripe avocado into chunks, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of course salt. Place on top of each bowl right before serving. Not necessary but definitely yummy.

And have some warm crusty bread on hand for dipping.




** A note about Salt: I tend not to measure the salt I add to my soups, I just take the salt grinder and go around the pot a couple of times until it feels right. If you don’t have good eye for amounts, I suggest you wait until the soup is almost done, taste the broth, and then add salt a bit at a time until it makes you happy. Always err on the side of caution when using store bought broth, as you can never be sure how salty they will be.
*** A note about stock: If you have homemade stock on hand that is of course the best. But it is rare that I have that, since I only roast a chicken a couple of times a year. Instead, I use better than bullion stock bases. I sometimes buy the liquid stock in the tetra packs and it works well too. I just find this more convenient for when I want a little bit of stock, and it is cheaper too. Since it is soup season again, I might stock up on the liquid kind again. If you do buy the liquid stuff, go for reduced sodium. With the better than bullion, I use 6 cups of water with the amount of base meant for 4-5 cups, since I find it too salty at full strength. Whatever you do, please don’t use those dried up cubes of bullion. Who really knows what’s in those???

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