Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cheddar Chicken Chowder- Redux

Here is the original recipe, as found in Cooking Light magazine, and also in the Recipe Trove here.

2 bacon slices
Cooking spray
1 pound skinned and boned chicken breast -- cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves -- minced
4 1/2 cups fat-free chicken broth
1 3/4 cups diced peeled red potatoes
2 1/4 cups frozen whole-kernel corn
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% low-fat milk
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese -- (3 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Crumble; set aside. Add chicken, onion, bell pepper, and garlic to bacon fat in pan; sauté 5 minutes. Add broth and potatoes; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add corn; stir well.Place flour in a bowl. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended; add to soup. Cook over medium heat 15 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper. Top with crumbled bacon.

This time, when I made this recipe I made some changes to use some on-hand leftovers, and I swear it was even better. My first change was to the chicken breast. We had baked chicken for dinner a few nights ago, and I had a couple of pieces leftover. I simply pulled the cooked meat off the bones to add to the soup later on- I did not saute with the veggies. The chicken had been previously roasted with Michael Chiarello's Fennel Spice Rub. My next change was the chicken broth. I pulled a bag that contained 4 cups of turkey stock from Thanksgiving. This was reduced, so it was very flavorful, and I ended up adding a cup of water to it. Next, I eliminated the potatoes. The previous night we'd had company, and one of them brought some delicious roasted veggies- and left the remains with us. So the leftover 2 cups of a roasted cauliflower, potato, onion, carrot, sweet potato blend went into the soup instead.

For the corn I had one package left from freezing fresh sweet corn last year- yum! And the last major change was to the milk. I really didn't want to run to the store to pick up milk, and the gallon was looking a little low, so instead I grabbed a 12 ounce can of evaporated milk, added 1/2 cup water to make it 2 cups, and used that instead of regular milk. All these changes made for a rather incredible bowl of cheddar chicken chowder. I love how versatile this recipe actually is. You can really sub in just about anything- and your end will product will be wonderful. The only things that I think are non-negotiable here are the bacon, red pepper, and cheese. Everything else can be swapped out or switched around to utilize on hand ingredients. And the best part is that this made a lot of soup! We will be having it again tonight as a ballet-night savior, warming it in the crock-pot while we are gone. Whatever doesn't get eaten tonight will become lunches for the next two days, so this is a real budget stretcher.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting -- I've made this CL soup before and one of my favorites. You gave me some great ideas for subs in the future. I've actually never made it with bacon.

I've frozen it before too --- just give a good stir (not as good as eating right away but still very good).

Erika said...

I think if you used veggies other than potatoes, this would freeze pretty well. It's always the potatoes that get a bad texture after freezing.

I would miss the smokiness without the bacon- but it is a small amount- I could see making it without.