Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Crab and Corn Chowder

With the weather being so sketchy, I was having a craving for something warm. Mr. Kim Chee and I were at a coffeehouse this weekend, and their soup of the day was corn chowder. Perfect inspiration!

This recipe uses canned corn and crab. If you're fortunate enough to be somewhere that fresh corn is in season (or have access to high-quality fresh crab!), by all means use that instead! Or, if you prefer frozen corn to canned, go ahead and use that too. I personally prefer canned corn--frozen corn gets a little too chewy for my taste.

The chowder starts with a little bacon. I used bacon ends, but if you're using strips of bacon, three pieces should suit you just fine.

While the bacon fat is rendering out, finely chop (or mince) your veggies. I used celery, carrots, onion, garlic, and bell pepper.

By this time, your bacon should be where you want it--not crispy, just cooked through.

Toss the veggies into the pot along with the bacon. Stir them around and let them cook until they are softened.

While your veggies are softening, you can work on your potatoes. Let's do the regular potatoes first.

To get them the right size for soup, I like to cut them lengthwise, into 3-5 thick slices, depending on the size of the potato.

Then, working with a few slices at a time (making sure to have a flat piece on the bottom, for stability), I cut the slices into planks--usually three planks per slice.

Then I cut the planks into cubes.

Repeat with a sweet potato--but be sure to peel it first!

I showed you a whole sweet potato at the beginning of the recipe, but I ended up using only about half of it. It was a pretty big potato.

Now that your veggies are softened, it's time to make a roux. The bacon didn't give up as much fat as I thought it might, so I threw in 2 tablespoons of butter, along with the flour. You want an equal amount of flour to fat, and without the butter, the roux would be too dry and your soup will taste grainy.

Here's what it should look like--a paste that's neither too wet nor too dry.

After about a minute (which is about how long it should take to open three cans of broth), you can pour in your broth. I used both chicken and vegetable.

Then add your potatoes. I did add the white potatoes--it's just that they don't float.

Let the soup boil away until the potatoes are soft enough to eat. And don't be afraid to let this actually boil--the white potatoes will break up a little and make your soup thicker.

When the potatoes tell you that they're ready, you can move on to the next thing. Drain all the liquid from your corn.

Pour the corn into the soup.
For richness, add some half and half.

Yum. Almost there!

A couple small cans of crab add the "crab" to Crab and Corn Chowder. (And I didn't get any pictures of this, I guess.) I wished so badly that I had fresh lump crab meat on hand. But my town grocery store only had leg meat. And beggers can't really be choosers. But I would highly recommend picking up the best crab meat you can for this. The leg meat was in very fine pieces, and didn't have a ton of meatiness to stand up to the potatoes. You could still taste it, though.
Some Old Bay seasoning will bring out the crab's flavor even more. And don't forget to add salt and pepper!

In the time it took to boil potatoes, you've got yourself a steamin' hot bowl of Crab and Corn Chowder. How does it feel? :D

Recipe: Crab and Corn Chowder

3 slices bacon, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, minced
1 carrot, minced
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bell pepper, minced

1/4 c. flour
2 tbsp. butter

2 cans chicken broth
1 can vegetable broth

2 medium-sized potatoes (or 3 smalls), diced
1 small (or 1/2 large) sweet potato, peeled and diced

2 cans sweet corn

1/2 c. half and half
2 4 oz. cans crab meat
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot, render fat from bacon. Add vegetables and cook until softened.

Add flour (and butter, if necessary.) Cook for about a minute, to get the floury taste out of the roux.

Pour in broths. Add potatoes, and boil until potatoes are softened.

Add corn, half and half, crab meat, Old Bay, and salt and pepper. Cook until everything has heated through. Serve!

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