I used to think that I did not like chowder because the only chowders I had ever tried were full of clams. Unsolicited fact about me: the only mollusk I am on good terms with is the scallop. They are delectable. But back to chowder… I can’t remember when I first tried a “non-clam” chowder, but all I know is that it was eye-opening.
Naturally, I schemed to create a chowder recipe which doubles as a vessel for bacon (sorry, vegetarians). I threw in some jalapeños and corn to add spice and so I could say I ate vegetables for dinner (masked in chicken stock and cream). The end result was delicious and the epitome of comfort food. The past few days of spring have brought us wind, hail, snow, sun, clouds, slush, and rain. So don’t for a second think that soup is only for cozying up in the fall and winter.
The recipe is extremely forgiving, as all soups should be, so feel free to adjust as you see fit. I thoroughly enjoy this soup even on the second and third days, once the flavors have become infused into one another.
JALAPEÑO AND BACON CORN CHOWDER
1 sweet onion, diced
2 shallots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 cans corn, drained (~15 ounces per can)
3 jalapeños, de-seeded and diced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1-2 cups half and half (1 cup for a lighter chowder, 2 for a creamier chowder)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (1/4 for mild spice, 1/2 for medium)
salt, pepper to taste
12 oz bacon
In a large skillet, fry the bacon until crisped at the edges. Save 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease. In a large pot or Dutch oven, sauté the onion and shallots in the bacon grease over medium heat for 10 min (until just barely beginning to brown). Next, add the celery and carrots; sauté for another 10 min. Then add corn, jalapeños, garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes.
Alternate adding flour and chicken broth to the vegetables, just a little at a time. Start with the flour, and wait 1-2 minutes between each addition, stirring frequently. Once the flour and broth are both incorporated, stir in the heavy cream and spices. Bring to a simmer for 5-10 minutes. Chop the bacon into bite sized pieces and add to the soup. Taste for flavor and add salt or pepper if needed. Serve with grated parmesan and green onion.
Keep any leftovers (up to a few days) in an airtight container in the refrigerator.