A few years ago, my mom got me The Bacon Cookbook, by James Villas for either Christmas or my birthday — I can’t remember which. This book is filled with over 150 wonderful recipes that all have a common ingredient — bacon. As with most people, I love bacon. Even the some of the most tried and true vegetarians I know have a good hankering for bacon every now and then.
As I settled in and started browsing the pages several recipes popped out at me. The first one that I cooked was Chicken, Corn and Bacon Chowder, which is featured on page 77. This luscious and decadent soup makes for a perfect meal on cold winter’s day.
As the flavors of celery and onion, thyme and cayenne, and potatoes, mingle with the milk and bacon, I grow more and more excited for that first spoonful. This truly is a wonderful soup.
However, I like to tinker.
Yesterday, we really needed to get to the store, but life got in the way and when it was time to make dinner, well, the cupboards weren’t bare, but they were sparse. Mrs. TKD, took a look around and declared that she thought we had the ingredients for the soup. We had many, but not all. Chiefly among the missing ingredients was all the milk.
Part of what makes cooking fun is taking ownership for recipes. We all learn to cook by reading other’s recipes or watching other people cook, but what really makes cooking fun for me is when I make a recipe my own. So, I put my creative hat on and I made Mr. Villas recipe my own.
We didn’t have a ton of milk, but we did have chicken stock on hand, and I knew I could finish the soup with a bit of milk for body and it would taste fine. For the past year or so, I have had a bit of a fascination with chipotle peppers and I thought that their smokey heat would be a welcome substitution for the cayenne. So I got to work and produced a soup that was probably a little more healthy (not much) that tasted just as good as the original.
1/4 lb bacon (diced)
1/2 large yellow or spanish onion (diced)
2 large shallows (diced)
1 clove garlic (minced)
2 ribs celery (diced)
1 1/2 cups potatoes (1 inch cubes)
1 quart chicken broth
2 tsp thyme (dried or ground)
2 tsp oregano (dried or ground)
16 oz milk (I used skim, but you can use any variety)
1 dried chipolte pepper (minced)
2 cooked chicken breasts (shredded)
10 oz frozen corn
Cook the diced bacon over medium high heat in the bottom of a large stock pan. When the bacon is crispy, remove it from the pot and let drain it on a plate lined with a paper towel.
Add the celery, onion and shallots to the pot and cook until the onions are translucent. Next, add the potatoes, thyme, oregano and the chicken stock to the pot. Bring the pot to a low boil and cook until the potatoes are tender.
To finish the soup, add the milk, chipotle, corn and chicken. Adding these ingredients at the end is important because you don’t want to over cook the chicken or the milk. I add the chipotle at the end to help control the amount of heat in the soup.
Bring the pot to a simmer being careful that you do not boil it to avoid scalding the milk. Serve alone or with a slice of your favorite crusty bread.