Chowder is a pretty common word, but what is it exactly? In short, chowder is comfort food - basically it’s a vegetable soup served with milk or cream. Traditionally chowder was thickened with broken saltine crackers but today it is often thickened with cornstarch or flower and served with crusty bread.
How to avoid a "blah" soup
Main tip: Add flavor - here’s how:
Use bacon drippings
Saute onion and garlic - then add veggies
Garnish with flavorful foods like sharp cheese
Yields: 8 Servings
½ pound flavorful bacon
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup onion, small chopped
½ cup celery, fine chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup carrots, small chopped
4 cups potatoes, small cube*
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
black pepper, fresh ground to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional)
4 cups half n half, or whole milk
2 cups sharp cheese, shredded
½ teaspoon dried thyme
pinch cayenne pepper
Chop bacon and scramble fry until crisp in a heavy bottom Dutch oven or large sauce pan. Remove bacon, set aside. Drain bacon dripping from pan. Add butter and chopped onion and celery to the pan; saute until onion is transparent. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add carrots, potatoes, corn, chicken broth, salt and pepper to taste. Cover, bring to a boil reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes reach desired tenderness.
If using optional cornstarch to thicken chowder, place in a bowl, add approximately ½-cup half n half; set aside. Stir remaining half n half into chowder mixture and bring to a boil (caution - do not allow to boil over). Stir together cornstarch and reserved ½-cup half n half; add to chowder and stir until thick and bubbly (note: if potatoes are soft they may partially mash while stirring creating a thicker consistency; the addition of cheese will also thicken the chowder; adding cornstarch is an option only if a thick chowder is desired).
Set aside some of the bacon and cheese for garnish. Stir remaining shredded cheese, bacon, thyme and cayenne pepper into chowder; taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with bacon, cheese and a sprinkle of dried thyme. Serve with crusty bread.
Additional Recipe Notes:
This recipe is great made ahead of time and served the next day.
*A note about potatoes: soft potatoes will mash if you over stir, which creates a thicker chowder.