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corn chowder with diced tomatoes and green chilies

January 17, 2011

Finals are the worst, man.  I’m so exhausted and can barely see straight because I’ve been reading outlines and case summaries so long.  The only thing getting me through is anticipation of this Saturday, when Em and I are going to have another cooking extravaganza, and leftovers from the corn chowder I made this weekend.

This corn chowder is filling but not too heavy, spicy but not that weird level of spicy some soups have going on.  Basically, it’s the perfect soup for a wintry day.  Especially if you’re a Texan living in the North who needs something warm that tastes a little bit Southwestern.

I adapted the recipe from Pioneer Woman’s corn chowder recipe.  Hers calls for green chilies, but I love the taste of tomato with corn, so I instead used a can of Ro-tel (diced tomatoes and green chilies).   I also added diced potatoes, which is totally optional but makes the soup a bit heartier.

One thing about my batch of chowder upset me, and I want you to learn from my mistake.  Well, not really my mistake, but it’s a mistake one might reasonably make so I’ll warn you anyway.  Because we live in a food desert, I often order my groceries from a grocery delivery company.  It’s convenient, but they make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes annoy me.  They always refund my money, but they never refund my time or food-making effort, y’know?   This time, they delivered maple bacon instead of hickory-smoked.  Maple bacon – I’m not sure what it is.  I just know that when I opened it, it smelled like maple syrup.  Luckily, once it was diced and fried up, it didn’t affect the flavor of the soup too much, but it also didn’t add the hickory-smoked bacon-y flavor I was looking for.  And as I eat the leftover soup, I find myself picking out the bacon.  That’s right – picking out the bacon.  I can honestly say I’ve never done that before unless it was during those dark six years that I was a vegetarian. So learn from me, everyone, and avoid maple bacon for a soup like this.

I’ll confess, I forgot to add the salt to this soup.   Maybe it’s because I used canned corn and canned corn has salt in it, but I didn’t notice a difference.  So feel free to wait to add salt until the end, once you know whether or not you like the flavor of the soup as is.

Corn Chowder with Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies

Adapted from Pioneer Woman; makes about 10 cups of soup (6-10 servings)

  • 2 15 oz cans of whole kernel corn (Pioner Woman uses fresh corn, but it’s winter, and good canned corn is easier to come by)
  • 1 can Ro-Tel (diced tomatoes with green chilies)
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 3 slices of bacon (see note above)
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 large russet potatoes, optional
  • 1/4 tsp salt (see note above)
  • 3-5 TBSP cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup hot water

Boil water in a large pot.  If using the potatoes, dice them into 1/2 chunks and boil them in the water until they’re very tender when pierced with a fork.  Drain them in a colander, run cold water over them, and then set them aside.

Dice the onion into whatever size chunks you like your onions.  I like large chunks of onion ’cause I’m like that.  Oh my gosh I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned it yet. I have a solution for all of you who are super-sensitive to onions, like I am.  I read this tip somewhere recently and thought I’d try it.  If you put a chunk of bread in your mouth and hold it between your teeth with your mouth open while you’re dicing the onions, it’ll minimize the eye-watering effects.  I tried it with just a Ritz cracker and even that worked.  Apparently it’s something about how it makes you salivate and that keeps your eyes from watering through some magic process.

Ok, sorry about that diversion.  Now, dice the bacon into 1/4 inch squares.  Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and sautee the bacon just until it’s crispy.

Then add the onion to the pot and sautee for a few more minutes, until the onion starts to soften.  Add the two tablespoons of butter to the pot and stir until it’s melted.   Now add the corn and potatoes, cook for one minute, and add the Ro-Tel.

Look at my new Dutch oven!!!  I love Christmas!

Add the chicken broth and cream.  Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low.   Stir the 3 TBSP cornmeal into 1/4 cup of hot water and then add to the soup.  I was on the phone with my dad and accidentally dropped all of the cornmeal straight into the soup.  It promptly clumped up, and I had to locate all the clumps with my wooden spoon, pull them out of the soup, and then do this step correctly.  Oy.

Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.  Check on the soup and if it seems too thin, mix another tablespoon or two of cornmeal with another 1/4 cup of hot water and add it to the soup.

Cook for 10 more minutes and check to see if it needs any salt.  If it does, add about 1/4 tsp salt.

Ladle into a bowl, curl up with a blanket, and enjoy.


url up with a blanket, and enjoy.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Aunt Jo permalink
    January 19, 2011 3:48 am

    Yum, Amanda! I make a very similar soup with Rotel, corn, tomatoes, onions, but with shrimp added. One son loves it – the other, (the older which means the one who gets his way more often than not) says it’s too potatoey. But since I cheat and use a base of canned potato soup, he’s probably right. I’ll try your version and get back with you – it sounds like a winner for these recent cold New Orleans’ nights. No comparison, I know. Just a week or so I did look up the temp at around 2:00am – don’t ask why – and it was 24 degrees in NO and 27 in Lake Tahoe…go figure!

  2. Sarah permalink
    February 2, 2011 10:44 am

    This is only slightly on topic, but is there a resource somewhere for converting dairy ingredients into alternatives for the non-dairy folks out there? I’d love to try this recipe, but I’ve yet to find a good substitute for heavy cream, and it tends to wreck the texture when I use plain almond milk instead. Ideas?

    • Amanda permalink*
      February 2, 2011 11:12 am

      Hmm. These look do-able – and (comments). You’ll never get the right texture with just pure milk – pure dairy milk wouldn’t work either, sadly – so I think you need to add some sort of thickener (looks like most people use syrup).

      Everything I found in a quick search used soy milk rather than almond milk, but I have no idea if there’s a reason for it. One commenter suggested that the hard-to-find soy creamer (for coffee) is great and is made with tapioca. I’ve recently read that some people use ground up tapioca pearls as a thickener (kind of like corn starch). You could add some ground up tapioca pearls to your fake (I mean non-dairy) milk and see if that works.

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