This soup was born Sunday night, entirely on the premise that if you figure out a good blueprint for soup, you can make one from just about anything in your kitchen. A few items that make the work much easier:
- homemade broth — you knew that was coming.
- a mire poix — (onions, carrots, and celery) a.k.a. aromatics of French cooking, the base for countless recipes. All of these items are inexpensive, and keep for relatively long periods, so in winter I always have them on-hand. Keep your onions in a basket or other container that allows air circulation; they should be kept cool and dry, but don’t refrigerate. Keep your carrots in their original bag, in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Keep the celery wrapped tightly in aluminum foil, in the crisper drawer, and it will stay fresh for a few weeks.
- milk or half-n-half, to quickly add creaminess to soups, or further a small amount of stock.
- good dried herbs, or even fresh ones. I try to keep at least Italian parsley in the frig — store it with a single paper towel in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Make sure your dried herbs are fresh — otherwise they’ll impart little flavor to your soups.
- grains (such as rice or barley) or noodles, to add bulk.
Soups are also a great way to use up items in the frig that are a step away from going bad. Got a half-container of mushrooms leftover from making pizza? There’s a soup for that. That one last slice of beef roast that nobody wants to eat? Throw it in a pot with broth, rice and vegetables. I get a freakish high when I make a meal out of some basics plus the rejected contents of our refrigerator, and often times it’s one of the best meals of the week (go figure).
Sunday night’s soup was a success. It gets a nice dose of sweet from the potatoes; but it’s on the thin side for a chowder, which keeps it from being too rich. When an experiment works, I try to write it down so we can enjoy it again. And by writing it down, of course I mean post it, since these days this blog is as close to a recipe book as I have.
Corn, Chicken, and Sweet Potato Chowder
If you don’t have homemade broth, you can make it in the hour before making the soup:
Place 2 bone-in chicken parts (2 breasts, or 2 leg quarters, or a combination) in a large pot and cover with water. Add a small onion, a carrot, and a stalk of celery, roughly chopped. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer about 25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate to cool, but continue simmering the broth. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones (reserve) and place the bones back into the broth. Continue simmering for another half hour. Strain the broth, and use in the soup (freeze any leftover broth for future soups).
- 2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 cups chicken stock (homemade preferred, see note)
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- about 1 1/2 – 2 cups cooked chicken, pulled apart into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cups frozen corn
In a large soup pot or dutch oven, cook the bacon until fat is rendered and starting to crisp. Add the onion and celery, and cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender and just starting to brown (about 8 minutes). Add 1 tsp salt, pepper to taste, and dried thyme.
Add chicken stock and milk to the pot, along with the chopped sweet potato. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until potato is tender, about 10 minutes.
Add cooked chicken and frozen corn to the pot, simmering just until corn is cooked and chicken is heated through. Taste for seasoning, and serve.
This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.