Saturday, August 20, 2011

Potato & Corn Chowder with Gorgonzola

Potato & Corn Chowder with Gorgonzola
2 tablespoons butter
2 to 3 stalks of celery (small dice)
1 small to medium sized yellow onion (small dice)
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh garlic (about 3 cloves)
1/4 cup flour (all purpose or whole wheat pastry flour)
salt and black pepper (to taste)
1 pint fat-free half & half
2 cups low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth, no MSG
1 1/2 pounds russet potato, peeled, diced into cubes
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (not ground)
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 can corn, drained (I used an 11 ounce can of corn niblets)
Gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbles
In a soup pot, melt the butter over medium to medium low heat. Add the diced celery and onion; season with salt and pepper (salt will draw out some of the moisture out of the veggies).  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 to 2 additional minutes).  Do not brown the veggies; just soften them.

Sprinkle the flour over the veggies, stir to combine, and cook another 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add in the half and half, stirring with a whisk to prevents lumps. Increase the temperature to medium high and bring the half and half to a simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Simmer until soup thickens, about 5 minutes.

Add in the chicken broth; stir to combine.  Add in the diced potatoes.  Bring the soup back up to a gentle simmer and cook, covered with a lid, for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (or until potatoes are desired tenderness).  I live at a high altitude so your potatoes may be done closer to 15 minutes depending upon your altitude and how small you dice your taters.  When potatoes are desired tenderness, add in drained corn; stir in to warm through.  Season with additional salt and black pepper if needed.   Serve each bowl of soup topped with about 1 teaspoon Gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbles.  Cooked, crumbled bacon or fresh, snipped chives would also be a great garnishes. Makes 7 one-cup servings.

Some vacation inspired cooking.  On our recent trip to Fort Collins, Colorado, we had dinner at a microbrewery/brew pub called CooperSmith's in the Old Town District.  I tell you, we love Fort Collins.  We rented bikes for the day and rode all over town, talleying up nearly 25 miles on the bikes when the day was done.  We had hearty appetites.

At CooperSmith's, I ordered a soup and salad combination when I learned the soup of the day contained Gorgonzola (blue) cheese and the side salad was topped with pepitas (pumpkin seeds)... how could I go wrong!?  The soup did not disappoint.  It seemed to be a hearty cream-based potato chowder with onions.  I can't remember if the soup was supposed to contain broccoli or spinach, but the veggie I found in my bowl seemed more like asparagus (maybe they were broccoli stalks?). Whatever the case may be, I am really pleased with my homemade version.  At the last minute, I decided to add in a can of corn but the corn could be left out.  I can imagine substituting other seasonal veggies.  I think if I swapped a can of clams for the corn, this soup would be a nice clam chowder.  Endless possibilities.

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