Chicken Corn Chowder

Normally, I’m not the type of person who eats something at a restaurant and then goes home and tries to recreate it. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I don’t really want to know how much butter what’s in the delicious food I eat when I’m not at home. Where’s the mystery? Where’s the intrigue?

At least, this was true until I went to Corner Bakery for lunch last week. (Not exactly Michelin rated, but hey, it was lunch.) There, I enjoyed a hearty bowl of corn chowder. As I lifted each spoonful to my mouth I wondered, What could those red specks be? Paprika? Cumin? And, How’d they get the broth so creamy without feeling heavy? I wanted to know exactly what was in it and I had to make it soon.

There was just one catch: I didn’t want to use cream. Or half-and-half. Or whole milk. Can you still have chowdah without those things? Fortunately, the answer is yes. I found a recipe that uses skim milk and a little bit of flour. Done. It turned out to have the perfect consistency—a little thicker than a traditional soup, but thin enough that you could easily swirl your spoon around if the mood hit. What’s more, I’m fairly new to the world of spicy foods and while I certainly wouldn’t describe this dish as spicy, the poblano pepper offers something special. It’s a slow, gentle burn that kind of lingers with you after you’re done. You know, just in case you forgot how awesome the soup you ate five seconds ago was.

Since I knew I’d be eating this meal for dinner several days this week (hello, leftovers) I wanted to include a protein source, which the original recipe didn’t call for. To this end, I cut two chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and sautéed them with the onion and garlic before adding the rest of the veggies. However, you can easily vegetarianify this recipe by ditching the poultry and subbing in veggie broth for the chicken broth.

When prepping your veggies, try chopping them into slightly larger pieces than you normally would use for soups. This gives the chowder a more substantial texture that matches the thicker broth. I’m just sayin’.

Chicken Corn Chowder
(Serves 6)

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large red pepper or two smaller peppers, seeds removed and chopped
1 small poblano pepper, seeds removed and minced
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and diced
2 cups chicken broth
4 ears sweet corn, kernels removed  or 2 cups frozen sweet corn
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 ½ cups skim milk
1 ½ tsp paprika
Salt and pepper
Green onion for garnish (optional)

Preparation
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add the chicken. Cook until no longer pink—about 5 minutes. Add the celery, carrot, red pepper, poblano pepper, and potatoes. Add the broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until veggies are tender—about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and milk. Pour mixture into soup pot. Add the corn kernels, paprika, salt, and pepper. Let soup simmer for 20-30 minutes on the stove.

Garnish with chopped green onion.

Adapted From: Two Peas & Their Pod

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