Summer has come and gone, and fall is upon us. I love fall, when the weather gets cool and crisp. Well, since I am back in Southern California, I’ll use my memories of life in NYC for the temperature. My neighborhood does have a lot of trees that change color and lose their foliage, so while it may be 80 degrees, the red and yellow leaves begin falling gently to the ground. The squirrels scurry about burying acorns, only to forget where they hid them. Yes they’re rodents, but they are cute rodents!
The bounty of produce in summer includes some of my favorite fruits and vegetables, but fall has it’s own luscious bounty. Winter squashes, all sorts of potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, apples, pears, persimmons, quince, pumpkins…too many to name here.
When a cold spell hit, for all of two days, I wanted something warm and comforting in my belly. I had just made 8 quarts of chicken stock the previous weekend, so soup came to mind. In my freezer was a giant Costco size bag of organic corn. Oh yes…corn chowder. If it was still summer I would have used fresh corn, but frozen works just as well. But in the interest of doing something different I decided to try using sweet potatoes instead of the usual white potatoes for my chowder. Salty bacon, sweet potatoes and corn…yeah that would work. At least I hoped it would, since I was developing this recipe for the first time.
Lucky for me and you too, it turned out to be rich and scrumptious.
Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder
5 slices bacon, thinly sliced
4 TB butter
1 medium onion, small dice
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 medium sweet potatoes (yams), small dice
2 quarts chicken stock
1 large sprig fresh thyme
6 cups corn kernels, thawed if frozen
1 cup milk, half and half or cream
In a large stock pot over medium high heat, saute the bacon until crispy. Remove and reserve the bacon. Melt the butter in the rendered bacon fat, then add the onions. Cook about 5 minutes, until the onions have softened. Stirring constantly, add the flour, salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until lightly golden. This is a basic roux, which will help thicken your soup.
Add the sweet potatoes, and stir about 1 minute, until they are covered in the roux. The mixture should be fairly dry at this point, as the flour will have absorbed the fat.
Add the stock and thyme sprig, stirring well to mix all the ingredients together. Don’t worry about removing the leaves from the thyme sprig, as they will come off as the soup cooks. When the soup is done you can remove the bare twig, as that is NOT edible. Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
Add the corn kernels and cook about 10 minutes for the flavors to meld. Turn off the heat, then stir in the milk, half and half or cream. If you want the soup to be very rich use cream. I used milk and it was still delicious.
Serve your soup with crusty bread and a nice glass of wine. OK, you don’t have to have the wine, but I sure enjoyed mine!
Omitting the bacon is fine. The flavor will change a little, but it will still be good!
Looks delicious. Do you think it might also be okay without the bacon? I’d like to make it for a vegetarian friend.
Chef 'Nita says
I loved the addition of sweet potatoes, very hardy and what an earthy way to build body heat on a cool day. Nicely done, Chef.