It’s March! Holy cow! And it feels like it; I wore a skirt to work today! Ok, I wore it with my knee length down winter jacket, but I still wore a skirt 🙂 Spring is in the air, my workouts have been great, and I was in the mood for soup.
I have no idea how I made it through my first Boston winter without making chowder. I admit, our winter was much less eventful than that of the rest of the Northeast all the way down to DC. But chowder is a Beantown classic, warm and creamy, indulgent and oh-so-bad-for-you. And I really, really had to have some.
Maybe it was the “bad for you” part that has kept me from attempting a chowder recipe. When my Mom and Aunt came to visit in November we had clam chowder at the Union Oyster House. I loved every cream and butter filled bite. Just a little cup of the stuff was so amazingly satisfying; probably the best chowder I have ever had. But thinking of having an entire pot of this bliss on my stove, just waiting for me to eat it…there must be another way!
And there is! My Mom also makes a mean corn chowder, which is where I started from. But I wanted to add some oomph, some staying power and interest to make it an entire meal. I found this recipe on SimpleHealthyRecipes.com and it looked amazing. I loved how there was no rue needed to start the dish, and some light milk and potatoes added the thickness and creaminess. Now that I am more confident around the stove (and the spice cabinet) I put my own twist on it.
Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder adapted from SimpleHealthyRecipes.com
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
10 oz of corn (this can be frozen, canned, or fresh…I used frozen)
1 sweet potato, cut into bite sized cubes
1.5 pints of chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon corn flour
2 tablespoons water
Couple handfuls of baby spinach
1 cup low fat or fat free milk (I used skim milk, use 1 or 2% if you like it creamier)
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
Saute the onions, garlic, and cumin until the onions are soft. Mix the water and cornstarch together in a small bowl.
*Note: The original recipe states not to let the vegetables to brown. While this is fine and understandable to end up with the white soup pictured with the recipe, you also just added cumin to them, which is a brown herb. In the end, your soup will not be pure white but rather a light brown color. I’m not quite sure how you are expected to end up with a white soup by using cumin. If you are color-centric and need a white soup, skip the cumin. But really, the flavor is worth it!
Add the sweet potato, corn, stock, and cornstarch mix. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes with the lid half off. Season to taste.
Turn the heat down and add the milk. Keep the heat low and continue to cook the soup without letting it come to a boil. Re-season if necessary.
Take an immersion blender, and run it through the soup a couple of times. This will help thicken the base and disperse the flavors. If you like a smooth soup you should go all the way (or even just put it in a blender) but I like mine with some hearty chunks, so I just gave my immersion a couple of laps around the saucepan.
When you are ready to serve, shred some baby spinach into each bowl and pour the hot soup over it. Stir around until the spinach is incorporated. I like to do this because it allows the spinach to cook a little while keeping its amazing green color. If you add it straight to the soup it will sit for a long time in the heat and become much more mushy.
Not the prettiest thing in the world, but I think Boston might be seeping into my blood because this chowder was awesome (if I do say so myself!). I didn’t mean to divert from the original recipe so much, but each step I kept thinking of something different that needed to happen. The flavors were glorious, and blending it a little allowed the sweetness of the corn and potato to seep out into the broth. The skim milk wasn’t disappointing either; it was still creamy and hearty without being thick, heavy, and leaving you with an “I just ate so much” belly. Z had 3 helpings of this! YAY!! 🙂
Now that I know I can tackle soup, I’m almost sad that winter is over (wait, no, I’m not…but I still do love me some soup!) I’m glad I took the dive and make the signature dish of my new city! What’s next, baked beans?! (Note: I also L-O-V-E baked beans. Its like Boston’s food is my BFF).
Does your city have a signature dish? Have you ever attempted to make it yourself?