Saturday, February 25, 2012

Roasted Pepper Corn Chowder

I'm realizing that all of my soup pictures look practically the same, but do not be deceived! They actually vary greatly from one another, and I'm especially excited about this one. Now that I've got down the necessary proportions for soup ingredients, I'm starting to feel like I can invent my own renditions of dishes. This one is a little spicy, a little smoky, and thickened by puréed onions, peppers, and corn.

This time I riffed off of this corn chowder on The Pioneer Woman's blog, adjusting for the content of my refrigerator/freezer and for my personal taste preferences. I increased the butter, added garlic, eliminated the bacon, substituted in different roasted peppers, added cumin and red pepper powder, but borrowed the idea of thickening it more with cornmeal.

If you keep a can of corn, a box of chicken broth, and some coconut milk in the cupboard, you could make this any time! Unsweetened coconut milk is becoming my cream/milk of preference for cooking, since before it's opened it's shelf stable (so I can just keep it around all the time, unlike dairy products), and after being opened lasts a while in the fridge. That also makes this a dairy-free recipe if you sub in oil for the butter. I've also started keeping a jar of roasted peppers in the fridge, since they are great in eggs, soup, vegetable dishes, and more (Trader Joe's has a nice jar of roasted red, orange, and yellow peppers). I imagine that it would work well with vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, if you want to go completely veggie.

Roasted Pepper Corn Chowder

3 T butter
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 pieces roasted red, orange, or yellow pepper, diced
8 oz. whole kernel corn (drained if canned)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp red chili powder
4 C chicken broth
2 C coconut milk
3 T masa or cornmeal
1/4 C water

Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper at each stage of the process.

Melt the butter until slightly browned in a dutch oven pot on the stovetop. Add the diced onion and cook over medium heat until translucent. When the onion starts to brown, turn down the heat a little and add the minced garlic, diced pepper, corn, cumin, and chili powder. Cook, stirring regularly, until the liquid in the mixture has evaporated and the elements become aromatic and a bit browned. Add the broth and coconut milk and heat until boiling, still stirring regularly. Mix the masa or cornmeal in a small bowl with the water, and once the pot is boiling stir in the masa/cornmeal. Turn down the heat, cover the pot, and let cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender or regular blender to purée until it reaches the desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve topped with avocado, or corn chips, or green onions, or bacon, or just plain!

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