Sunday, November 13, 2011
Potato and Corn Chowder: for my son's birthday :)
Today is my sons birthday. I miss him..... I want to fix him dinner.....I want to see him sitting at my table......SON, where are you.....?
Happy Birthday my darling. Wanna come over and have a bowl of soup with us?
In the fall and winter months I love to fix soups. If it is cold outside and warm inside, soup makes being home magical. The house smells so good, and it is a meal that doesn't take much time. Usually, the soup can even be made a day before you may need it. It can simmer and the house smells delightful.
On this day I decided to use some of the potatoes I had bought from Scorsbys. The Idaho grown Russet potatoes are my favorite, and I have about 25 lbs of them to use up. So, sit back and relax and let me teach you one of the easiest soups to make.
It was this pound of bacon that gave me the inspiration to go with the potatoes and make soup. It had been in my fridge for a week or so and it needed to be used up. It is thick sliced from the deli at Win Co. It is my new favorite bacon. The flavor is rich and pungent. I really like it.
I don't fry bacon anymore. Baking Bacon is the Best Thing Ever. Just put it on a rack in a cookie sheet at 12 minutes at 375 or so. Check it at 10 minutes, but it may need to bake 15 minutes. It all depends on how crispy you want the bacon to be.
Baking the bacon makes clean up so much easier. No more splatters all over the stove top. It is great.
Put a pot of water on the stove to get hot. Add salt to the pot. Then it will be ready to add the potatoes/spuds.
Next, get your "spuds". That is what we, by we, I mean those of us in Idaho, call a potato. I love spuds. I have them hidden somewhere in nearly every meal.
Do you know you can buy soap made out of spuds? It smells good, too.
Just peel the spuds. You don't have to be perfect when peeling them for soup. The peelings have lots of nutrition in them, and I leave them on the spuds for lots of dishes.
Dice the spuds up into bite size pieces. Try to keep the size consistent. Then they will all cook in the same amount of time.
These spuds are locally grown. They were dug from a farmers field about 2 days before I bought them. On one of the ends of a spud there was still a little green. If you ever find the same thing when you buy spuds, just cut that part away, as it will taste bitter. I don't want bitter soup, so I whacked that end off.
Or if you find a little brown (rotten) part in the middle of the spud, cut that away. That is usually caused by too much watering while growing. Some times, in the fields the ends of rows will get too much water. Or it might be in the middle of the field that gets too much water, whatever. I was told by a high school classmate, Kenny Anderson, that it was the farmers way of making a place for the butter to go. Kenny now serves on the board of the Fish and Game. What does he know about farming?
Anyway, just whack that part out. The rest of the spud is still very good.
The water in the pot, that is on the stove should be hot by now. Go ahead and add the potatoes/spuds when the water is hot.
Now it is time to doing some onion dicing. I love onions in my soups. I always put in twice what most recipes call for. Since this is my recipe, and I am making it up as I go, I am adding lots of onions so you can see what I mean.
I use red onions, white onions or yellow onions. Just use what you have on hand. This is one whole red onion and a part of a yellow onion I had in the fridge. Just chop or dice them up.
You can add vegetables that you like to most soups, but for this chowder I am keeping it pretty plain.
I also add chopped celery. I like lots of celery, too. So, I add the whole bunch of celery.
I chop the whole bunch, tops and leaves, as well. I cut off the bottom white part of the celery about an inch. I don't like that "woody" part in the soup. Cut it all up and then.........
Add the onions and the celery to 1/2 cube of butter in a fry pan.
Saute the onions and celery until the onions are turning translucent. Add a little more butter if you want. That amount is up to you. Stir the onions and celery occasionally so they will cook evenly.
Check on the spudtatoes. ( I love that word. It says spuds and potatoes all at once) They should be at a low boil, just simmering away, and making foam.
The trick is to not put a lid on the pot. If you do, I promise you, the pot will boil over. It is a fact. I have proven it over and over. I used to think, "the water will heat faster and the spudtatoes will be cooked faster", and it is true. But in the process they always boiled over and made the biggest mess on my stove. I don't get a lid out of the drawer anymore!
While you stir the onions and celery, watch the pot of spudtatoes, be sure to check on the bacon in the oven..don't let it over cook. Turn down the oven heat if you think it is getting done.
Watch the spudtatoesspudtatoes.
Cook the spudtatoes until they are fork tender and then turn off the heat. Add the partially frozen corn. I say, partially frozen, but it can be completely frozen. Just add it to the water and the spudtatoes. The corn will cool down the water and stop cooking the taters. (Another word for the potatoes. You are learning so much today :)
I froze corn last September. It is what I got from my nieces in-laws corn field. It is so tasty and good. I take it out of the freezer and pop it on the edge of the counter to break it apart enough that I can get it out of the bag.
Add the corn to the potatoes and the water. Don't drain the potatoes, as the water needs to thaw the corn and start it cooking a little.
As the corn warms up, break it apart so it can cook through and stop the potatoes from cooking.
Check the bacon again. Oh, look, it is done. I am sure of it.
When the bacon is getting firm, so you can chop it up, it is done. Soft soggy bacon is my preference when I eat it for breakfast, but not for soups. It needs to hold up under the sauce and other ingredients so it needs to be a little crisp. Not much, just a little. When you see it is good, remove it from the oven.
Your mouth will be watering, you ears will hear the simmering of the cooking bacon, and it does that so you will remember that it is hot. I mean really hot. Hot enough to burn your fingers. So fight off the urge to snag a strip of bacon and toss it carelessly into your mouth. It is hot. I speak from experience. Believe me, it is hot, and simmering, just listen to it.
While it is cooling off it is time to make the White Sauce. I love white sauce. Love it.
In a heated sauce pan, (this one is a pan I inherited from my Aunt Erma after she died. It is part of a set of Guardian Cookware. I love it, and use it whenever I can) melt 5 Tablespoons of butter, or more or less if you want. I like white sauce so I tend to make a large pot of it.
To the melted butter add equal amounts of flour. If you used less butter, use less flour. I added 7 tablespoons of flour and 2 more tablespoons of butter. I could see I wanted more white sauce.
Stir it up. Or whisk it up. You want to have a Rue.
This is where you will sort of know that you can add more flour or butter. It needs to be like a paste.
Then add the milk. I started with a quart of milk....but added more as it started to thicken.
Keep whisking it as it heats up. It will fool you and thicken quickly. You must not stop whisking. Just whisk away, feel the underarm flab jiggle. Whisk, whisk, whisk. It will thicken on the bottom of the sauce pan, where all the heat is, so you must not stop whisking. Add a little salt and pepper to it.
Suddenly it will thicken, like magic and the white sauce is ready. It is magic, I tell you!
If it gets too thick, just add more milk, or half and half would be good.
Take it off the heat.
It is time to chop the bacon. It should be cooled by now. (Is your mouth watering still?)
Now, at this point the photos are going to change a bit.
Remember how I was making this for dinner....well, the sun was setting and I was losing my light.
It was a beautiful sunset. One I would have loved to go outside and watch. You would have loved it too. This is what it looked like from inside my house.
A typically cold winter sky. With the promise of a cold night. When we have clouds it stays warmer, but when the clouds go bye-bye, well, the fireplace is turned on and we cuddle.....and eat soup.
Get away from the window and chop the bacon. You have to have this dinner ready soon!
Mouth watering isn't it?
Stop yourself from chopping it all up. Save just one little piece for later. I will tell you when to use it.
No, my son, you can't eat this. I need it for later.....I said, No!
It is time now to drain the potatoes and corn. Just dump the pot into a strainer and drain most of the water off. I save a little of the water in the pot if the white sauce is too thick. It will help to make it a thinner consistency. Just use your best judgement.
The corn is warmed through, but not over cooked. We want a little crunch somewhere in this soup.
Now the fun starts. Just add the other stuff.
Add the bacon, the onions and celery.......
Add the white sauce. Doesn't that look wonderful?
Now stir it up.
Take a bite. That is an order. You must check to see if it needs salt and pepper. Although the bacon is salty I usually add both salt and pepper to bring out the flavors.
Sometimes I add a can or two of diced chili peppers. That always gives it another dimension.
Now it is time to put it in a bowl.
I sprinkled some Monterrey Jack Cheese on the soup. It is what I had. A Cheddar would be good for color, but make due with what you have. It isn't going to add much flavor, but it makes a girl feel good to make it "prudy".
Remember that one piece of bacon you saved?????
Now is when you use it. Chop/crumble it over the soup with the cheese.
Add a sprig of parsley for color. (From my herb garden, which I brought inside a week or so ago. It would freeze outside, so now all the little plants sit in front of a window and bask in the sunshine.)
I called my DH to come and eat. He came.... but my son didn't....where are you my son?????
Once DH started eating I didn't hear another word out of him until he was finished. I was afraid he had died and gone to food heaven. He was so quiet. If you want a man to love you, feed him good home made food.
I added a couple of slices of fresh home made wheat bread to accompany the soup. A little butter and honey and we were in food heaven.
Oliver, I will save a bowl for you, just in case you show up later....okay? I will put a candle in it for you. I love you, and Happy Birthday!
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