Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thicker Than Soup, Thinner Than Stew…

First of all, if anyone ever used the word “stoup” to describe the above condition to me I’d laugh in their face and give them a nice, hearty slap to bring them back from the kiddy kitchen fun time hour, or maybe the other way around I haven’t decided yet. Just because you can make up imaginary, cutesy terms to describe something that you’ve “made” doesn’t mean you should. I wonder if She Whom We Shall Not Name has ever considered the fact that her adorably rancid little term already exists, for something far more interesting. Also, why bother using euphemisms in your little cooking show when you have to explain what they mean? Every. Single. Time. It’s called 30 Minute Meals, not Kindergarten Speech Therapy. Plenty of actual chefs don’t have to resort to childish abbreviations or speech patterns when performing on their shows, and I suppose they don’t have to because they actually have intelligent and useful things to say. Every TV ‘chef’ is annoying to some degree if you watch them too much, but She Whom We Shall Not Name is agitating after a record 4 seconds.
Moving on. Chowder-it’s thicker than soup, thinner than most stews…oh…wow.

Corn Cheddar Chowder
Recipe derived from this awesome food blog: http://www.lastnightsdinner.net/

4 tablespoons butter
1 cup diced sweet Spanish onion
1 cup sliced scallions
4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
8-10 small red potatoes, cut into about 1 inch chunks
16 oz portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chopped or pureed (use blender/food processor) roasted red/yellow bell peppers
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 lb. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Kosher salt to taste

Melt 2 tbs of the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and add onion and scallions. Season with salt and cook on med low until lightly caramelized. Add vinegar and cayenne, cook 1 minute. Add corn, stock, potatoes, pepper puree, stir and cover. Simmer over medium-low heat until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20-25 minutes.
While you wait for the timer, sauté the mushrooms in the remaining butter in a separate pan with some salt and pepper. Move the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside. Reduce the mushroom water/butter left in the pan until it forms a dark, thick syrup, then pour into the mushroom bowl.
When the potatoes are nice and soft, taste and add additional salt, cayenne or vinegar if necessary. Spoon some of the soup into a blender, filling no more than half way. Put on lid and hold a thick cloth over the lid and blend until smooth. Pour the result back into the chowder and fill blender halfway twice more. You could also use an immersion blender or food processor for this if you have them. Stir in the blended remains and add the shredded cheese, stir well. Now add your mushrooms with their lovely sauce and mix again. Serve with a thick piece of rustic bread, I like Portuguese Saloio. If you're entertaining you could garnish with a sprinkle of cheese and chopped scallions.

So. Damn. Good. Even with frozen corn, it would likely be even better with fresh. I still can't believe I actually made this, I'm shocked. This is my first ever fully independent soup-like conconction. That tablespoon of cayenne does add quite a kick, so if you don't like spicy you should cut that in half, or more. The original recipe did not call for mushrooms or balsamic vinegar, but it's fall and I wanted to make it more autumn-ish so in they went. I also gave a thought to using yams or sweet potatoes instead of red and doubling the Spanish onion and omitting the green...maybe next time.
Before I added the cheddar, but after I pureed some of the potatoes, I did a taste test. Holy crap this was good, even without the cheese! So the low fat alternative would be to sauté the onions and mushrooms in olive oil, and just forget the cheese altogether. Hazaah!

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