09 September 2009

Corn Chowder with Kielbasa

This is Andrew's favorite soup in my arsenal. His family loves it too, which always makes me feel so flattered. I make it often, just so I can get the compliments! The corn and kielbasa may seem like an odd combination, but the sweet crunch of the corn and the tangy spice of the kielbasa meld beautifully.

A lot of this recipe is based on what I have on hand, how many people I need to feed, and how hungry those people will be. If I am making dinner for Andrew, I bulk up the amount of kielbasa, because I know he likes it and appreciates the protein. If I want some of the bacon for breakfast the next morning, I use half of it. If I don't have any on hand, I skip it. This is a forgiving recipe, so feel free to substitute, add, subtract, mess around with the herbs, and make it your own.

Corn Chowder with Kielbasa

1 medium onion, diced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced2 tbsp. butter
1 lb. bacon
2 bags frozen corn
4 c. chicken broth
3 c. milk/cream (your choice - I usually do a mix)
1-2 pkg. kielbasa
Ground Sage
Additional Herbs/Spices (I suggest red pepper flakes, tarragon, and fresh parsley)

Cut the bacon into chunks - I like to take half a pound at a time and cut it crosswise into pieces about an inch long.

In a large stockpot, cook the bacon until it is crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon pieces. If you do the whole pound, you may want to do two batches. Drain the bacon on a plate lined with paper towels. Discard the all or at least the majority of the bacon grease.
Add butter, potatoes, and onions to the stockpot. Salt and pepper liberally. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add chicken broth to pot. If you feel this will not be enough soup (make sure to account for the milk you'll be adding), add 1-2 cups of water. Add the frozen corn, ground sage, and any other dried herbs you wish and bring to a simmer. Allow soup to simmer for 10-15 minutes, then drop the heat back to low.

While the soup is simmering, cut the kielbasa into bite-size chunks. I like to cut it on an angle so I have funny little pieces instead of perfect coins, but I'll leave that up to you. Toss all the kielbasa into a pan over medium-high heat and cook as desired. I like my kielbasa to have a nice char to it, so I cook it until the edges are blackened and it's crispy. Drain the grease and set aside.

Use an immersion blender to puree about half the soup. If you don't have one, you can dump half the pot into your regular blender. Just be careful to cool it a bit before blending so you don't end up with a boiling hot mess.

Stir in milk/cream (fat free half and half works too) and add the bacon back into the pot. If you're going to eat the soup right away, heat to desired temperature over medium-low heat.

To serve, ladle out bowls of corn chowder and have everyone top their soup with chunks of kielbasa. To store, I like to keep the soup and meat separate unless I'm going to put them in small containers for lunches, in which case I combine them.

This chowder is easy to make, hearty, and delicious. It's a great meal to eat while you're cuddled up on the couch watching TV!

What I like best about it is that it's tough to mess it up. My measurements are all based on what we like. If I have onions I need to use, I'll chop up a second one. If I have a couple ears of leftover corn on the cob (which I did this time), I cut the corn off and toss that in. Sometimes I want it to be spicy, so I'll add some red pepper flakes to the onion/potato sauté and then hot sauce to the finished soup. It's all about what makes you happy. And I promise, this soup will definitely do the trick.


Anonymous said...

I have some kielbasa in my freezer that I need to use up. I am not a huge fan of kielbasa, but I think I would like it in a recipe like this.

Mike Schmidt said...

now THAT is a dish to be served the night before a day chasing steelhead!