Friday, 31 October 2014

Corn and Bacon Chowder with Cheese Biscuits

A bowl of hot soup is perfect with warm cheese biscuits, straight from the oven, especially on a cool Fall evening. It's not only comfort food, it's also good for you!

Start off by dicing the vegetables. I used the last of my carrots, leek and added in some onion:

1 medium carrot
3/4 cup diced leek
1/2 medium onion

Set aside while you cook the bacon.

Dice 2 strips of bacon, and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally.

When the bacon is crisp, drain on paper towels to remove the excess fat.

Drain the remaining fat from the pan.

In the same pan (it has all that bacon flavour) add a drizzle of olive oil, and cook the diced vegetables until they start to soften.

Stir often. Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle about 1 - 2 tablespoons of flour onto the vegetables. You want enough to lightly coat them, and to absorb the oil. This will help thicken the soup.

Cook for about 2 minutes.

Add 4 cups of chicken stock, and allow it to come to a boil, stirring well in the beginning to avoid lumps of flour from forming.

While the stock is coming to a boil, peel and dice 1 russet potato.

Add this to the boiling stock, and turn the heat down to medium. Cook until the potato is just tender.

Now you can add the frozen corn. I added about 1 1/2 cups. Continue to cook over a medium low heat, to finish cooking the vegetables, and to heat the corn.

Taste, and adjust seasoning.

Just before serving, add the cooked bacon to the soup.

Adjust the thickness to your preferred consistency by adding a bit of milk.

Taste again, and adjust seasoning. The bacon is salty, so the balance will have changed.

For the cheese biscuits, heat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Measure out the dry ingredients:

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt (less if you use salted butter)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar

Add 5 tablespoons of butter, cut into small bits.

Using your fingertips, work the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a fine, crumbly texture.

Now add the cheese...

I used a good handful of grated Cheddar as well as 1 green onion, finely chopped

Add approximately 2/3 cup of buttermilk, and mix in with a fork. Add more as needed.

Be careful not to overmix the dough, it will toughen it. You want it to just be wet enough to start sticking together.

Turn out onto a floured counter, and gently bring it together into a ball.

Gently press the dough down into a circle, about 1/2" thick.

Cut it into 8 pieces...

...and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Brush the tops of the biscuits with a bit of buttermilk.

Bake until the biscuits are golden, about 15 - 20 minutes.

  • I usually use celery as one of the vegetables for this soup, but I had used my last bit of celery for something else. The type pf vegetables you use depends on your preferences and what you have available. The important thing is that they are all cut into small dice, about the same size as the corn.
  • Add fresh herbs if you have them available...thyme and parsley would complement the vegetables well. I relied on the flavour of the vegetables, and the smokiness of the bacon to flavour the soup.
  • Any smoky meat can be used...leftover Christmas or Thanksgiving ham, pulled pork or smoked chicken.
  • In summer, use fresh corn. Cut the kernels off the cob and add them to the soup.
  • Add black beans for colour, and extra fibre and protein. Season the soup with cumin and chili powder.
  • Turn the soup into a seafood chowder by adding in cooked crab, shrimp or scallops with the corn. Add some chopped fresh dill and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Instead of potatoes, add leftover cooked rice or pasta to the soup.
  • Use vegetable stock or water instead of chicken stock...make it a vegetarian soup by leaving the bacon out.
  • The soup can be frozen.
  • Spice the biscuits up by adding paprika, cayenne pepper or ground black pepper. Instead of green onions, use chopped fresh chives.
  • As with any recipe calling for cheese, try something different each time, until you find your absolute favourite...smoked white cheddar, Gouda, Parmesan or Pepper Jack are some of the endless choices.
  • Margarine can be used if you don't have butter.
  • As a substitute for buttermilk, add a squeeze of lemon juice to milk, and allow it to curdle; or mix a spoonful of plain yoghurt or sour cream into milk.
  • The biscuits can be cut out into rounds by using a cookie cutter. I find there's less waste by doing it this way. Divide the dough into 2 rounds, and make smaller biscuits if you wish.
  • The biscuits are also a great accompaniment to stews or chili.
  • Make the biscuits sweet by omitting the green onions and cheese, and increasing the sugar to 2 tablespoons. Sprinkle the top of the biscuits with either white or brown sugar before baking them. These can be eaten with jam, or used to make berry shortcakes : split the warm biscuit and top the bottom half with sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries, before replacing the top half.

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