I am unusual in that when I don’t feel well or I am in a bad mood I just want to cook. It makes me feel better. It allows me to focus on something other than feeling poorly. And generally when I am in such a state, I want to cook comfort food. Well, one of those days recently came about and all I wanted was a nice, warm, hearty soup. I found a recipe for Corn and Cheese Chowder from Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, a wonderful blog, and just the name of this soup made me feel a little better. I dragged my carcass out of the apartment, went to the store in my “not feeling well pajamas”, came back home, and started cooking.
I adapted this recipe a bit to add a bit more depth of flavor and of course more cheese! The original recipe did not call for any spice except for salt and pepper, but I feel a chowder such as this benefits from the addition of some earthy herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and a little tarragon. I put in extra corn to add more (and to use up the 8 fresh ears of corn that came in the package). To make this soup even heartier, I increased the amount of cheese and favored sharp cheddar over the Monterey jack called for in the original recipe. The result was rich chowder that truly warmed the cockles of my heart and made me feel instantly better, and I hope it will have the same effect on you!
Corn and Cheese Chowder
Adapted from Confessions of a Pioneer Woman
4 Tablespoons 1/2 Stick Butter
1 whole Onion, Chopped
6 slices Bacon, Cut Into Pieces
4 whole Bell Peppers, Finely Diced (red, Yellow, Orange, and Green)
8 ears Corn, Kernels Sliced Off
1/4 cup All-purpose Flour
32 oz Chicken Stock Or Broth
2 tsp Rosemary
2 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Tarragon
2 cups Half-and-half
2.5 cups (heaping) Grated Sharp Cheddar***
2 cups (heaping) Pepper Jack
1/3 cup Sliced Green Onions
1. In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook onions for a couple of minutes. Add bacon and cook for another minute or so, then add diced bell peppers and cook for a couple of minutes. Finally, add corn and cook for a minute.
2. Sprinkle flour evenly over the top and stir to combine. Pour in broth and stir well. Allow this to thicken for 3-4 minutes, then reduce heat to low. Stir in half-and-half. Add Rosemary, Thyme, Tarragon, Salt and Pepper. Cover and allow to simmer/thicken for 15 minutes or so.
3. Stir in cheeses and green onions. When cheese is melted and the soup is hot, adjust salt and pepper to your taste.
4. Hollow out your bread bowls, ladle in soup, and serve immediately
*** I am a firm believer in using high quality cheese when cooking. You can’t beat the flavor, and you cut down on the preservatives in processed cheeses. However, do be careful when adding salt to this and any dish in which you use a high quality cheese, since the cheese itself will already have a good deal of salt. So, go light on the salt at first and add more as you go to fit your taste. A lesson I learned about seasoning from my mother when I was first learning to cook and bake was, “You can always add, but you can’t take away.”