BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!
Frank Loesser’s playful lyric is appropriate to this time of year. It is indeed chilly—and snowy—and icy—outside. The cold gives us an excuse to linger indoors and enjoy ourselves, however.
And of course we can cook………
January is National Soup Month for a reason. We have entered the season of simmering pots and warming lunches. I have lots of favorite soups for cold weather. I can eat split pea soup for days on end (a good thing since it’s hard to make only a small pot of it). I save my chicken bones religiously for stock. I turn the dregs of pot roast into vegetable-beef soup. And I’m a sucker for the potential in a can of tomatoes.
We can light fires, which always cheer. We can read the occasional novel. We can think about going for long walks in the snow. We can catch up on housework. (We CAN—but I’m not sure I will.)
Here is a soup I’ve just started making, and I love it. It was inspired by the Happy Valley Locavore, a blog maintained by Meggin Thwing Eastman of Greenfield, Massachusetts. Meggin writes about her quest to cook with and eat as much locally produced food as she can.
The soup on which this one was based (which of course used fresh corn!) solved a long-time dilemma for me. I love to make corn chowder, but I have lots of friends who avoid pork and thus can’t eat the bacon that gives my favorite corn chowder its smoky taste. Meggin’s answer is to use canned chipotles (smoked jalapeño peppers). These give the soup not only smoke but a touch of heat as well.
Stay warm and eat hearty!
Chipotle Corn Chowder
peanut oil as needed for sautéing
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound new potatoes, cut in small cubes (leave the skins on!)
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock, plus more stock if needed
2 pounds frozen corn (or the corn from 8 to 10 ears), preferably slightly thawed
2 chipotles in adobo sauce, seeded and finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
cream and milk to taste
chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté them until they begin to brown. Stir in the potatoes, and cook for a couple of minutes, adding more oil if needed to keep them from sticking to the pot. Pour in 1 quart of stock, and bring the mixture to a boil.
Add the corn and chipotles to the pot, return the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer the mixture covered until the corn and tomatoes are soft and the soup tastes good. This takes about half an hour on my stove. Add a bit more stock if the soup looks as though it is drying out.
Let the soup cool for a few minutes; then carefully blend it using a blender, immersion blender, or food processor. Return the soup to the pot, and add a little cream. Stir in milk until the chowder looks and tastes right to you. Heat the milky mixture just to the boiling point, and serve. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired. Serves 8 to 10.
Lorelei Lee likes to nap on soup days (and on non-soup days, too!).