Here in the Northeast, we love our chowder all year long. I'm partial to traditional New England clam chowder, packed with fresh clams and chopped potatoes swimming in a creamy base, and I love a fish variation, with chunks of cod and whatever is fresh at the market. (I've heard there is a red chowder, made with tomatoes, from a very large city southwest of Boston with a rival baseball team. We don't speak of it.) Although chowder usually contains seafood, we New Englanders make allowances for people who cannot, or prefer not to, eat fish or shellfish. Corn, abundant in the summer, often stands in for clams, and brings its own sweetness to the chowder. In this recipe, I omit the potatoes and add some chopped rotisserie chicken. It's a great combination that turns the soup into a complete meal-in-a-bowl. A roux made right in with the vegetables thickens the soup; you can substitute gluten-free flour to make the chowder gluten-free. Serve some crusty bread or salty crackers on the side.
Quick and easy chicken and corn chowder
From the pantry, you'll need: bacon, butter, all-purpose unbleached flour, chicken broth, onion, thyme, fresh black pepper.
Serves 6; can be doubled.
4 strips bacon, diced
1 large scallion, minced (white and green parts), or 1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper, or a mix of red and green (I like to use mini peppers, and cut them in rings)
16 oz frozen corn
1 tsp dried thyme, or 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose unbleached flour
4 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium store-bought
3 cups chopped cooked chicken (leftover, or rotisserie chicken)
1 cup half-and-half (do not use fat-free)
Fresh black pepper, to taste
In a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot, cook the bacon over low-medium heat until the fat renders out, and the bacon browns but does not get crisp.
Add the scallion (or onion) and bell pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes, until the onion is translucent (or softened, if you're using scallion).
Stir in the frozen corn and thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, to allow the flavors in the pot to mingle, for 2-3 minutes. Toss in the butter, keep stirring, and let the butter coat the corn and vegetables.
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, and stir to incorporate it thoroughly with the butter in the pan. This will take just a minute. Then, pour in the chicken stock; it should start to thicken a little bit right away.
Bring the soup to a boil, and stir in all of the cooked chicken.
Reduce the heat to low, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the half-and-half, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with fresh black pepper; if you are using homemade stock, you might also need to add some kosher salt.
Serve hot. Or, cool completely, and refrigerate for several hours or up to a day before you plan to serve.
More meal-in-a-bowl chowders:
Smoky shrimp, corn and bacon chowder, from The Perfect Pantry
Quick and easy white clam chowder, from The Perfect Pantry
Salmon chowder, from Simply Recipes
Gluten-free quinoa and cauliflower chowder, from Foodiecrush
New England fish chowder, from The Kitchn
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