Sunday, December 28, 2014

"The Thanksgiving Book" - Country Corn Chowder - Christmas Day soup

Date I made this recipe:  December 26, 2014

The Thanksgiving Book – An Illustrated Treasury of Lore, Tales, Poems, Prayers and the Best in Holiday Feasting by Jerome Agel and Jason Shulman; Introduction by Willard Scott
Published by: Dell
© 1987
Recipe:  Country Corn Chowder – p. 23

Just like this year's Christmas cards (still unsent), I intended to make this dish on Christmas Day.  But we were invited to a Christmas open house and when one thing led to another, we got home way too late to assemble this soup and so you're getting the recipe the day after.  From a Thanksgiving cookbook, no less.  Well – these things happen.

This year, our Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays were very low key which is fine by us as we merely switch our meals around to fit schedules.  Actually, this year, Thanksgiving came and went without so much as an overeating moment to our name.  We normally spend the time around Thanksgiving with members of Andy's family but this year everybody was scattered and so to keep things simple, we got a turkey dinner takeout from one of our favorite restaurants.   And for the first time, it was rather underwhelming so...huh.

So then Christmas time was upon us and we were once again faced with dinner(s).  This time around, we decided that our usual and customary pasta meal on Christmas Eve would be our big meal and since we had the open house on Christmas Day, a simple soup would serve as dinner.  And since friends from Iowa came bearing gifts of sweet corn to us this summer (that we then froze), we decided on a simple but good corn chowder.  And naturally, the recipe came from a Thanksgiving book, reminding us of what we missed this time around.  And by the way, since his mom is having an open house on New Year's Day, we are going to do the same drill we did this Christmas i.e. heavy meal the night before, soup the day of.

So.  Corn Chowder is one of our favorite soups and as soon as our friends gave us the corn, Andy suggested making it but of course, we didn't have the time or I, the inclination, to go searching for a chowder recipe.  And then Thanksgiving came along and the thought of finding recipes for all the components of a traditional dinner (turkey, stuffing, etc.) was so overwhelming that we opted for take-out.  Still, I flagged this recipe with the frozen corn in mind.

And so speaking of the corn, although this recipe doesn't require you to pre-cook the corn, neither does the cooking time allow for it to get good and done (if you are using frozen corn that is).  So I recommend taking the corn off the cob and then cooking it (either in a pan with water or a microwave) until it's a little tender and then adding it to the soup.  Andy though, said he preferred the texture of the corn "as is" and so he wouldn't change a thing.  But it's my blog so I win!

I also made two additions to the recipe that I hope won't get me sent to culinary hell:  a bit of leftover red pepper – diced, and then two chicken breasts that I poached and then diced.  I love chicken corn chowder but you won't go wrong if you make the recipe as is.

Country Corn Chowder – Yield 8 to 10 servings
Per our authors, this recipe was a house specialty from the Inn of the Golden Ox, in Brewster Massachusetts.  (

½ lb bacon or fatback, diced (Ann's Note:  This is not used to complete the recipe, only to sauté the vegetables so if you don't have enough or even either on hand, don't sweat it!)
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
½ cup flour
2 qt chicken stock, chilled
2 cups raw potatoes, diced
½ tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
½ tsp marjoram
4 sprigs parsley
6 peppercorns, crushed
1 clove garlic
6 ears sweet corn
2 cups half-and-half or light cream
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
Unsalted butter (for garnish)

In a 4-quart stockpot, sauté bacon or fatback until fat is rendered.  With a slotted spoon remove bacon or fatback and discard, leaving fat in the stockpot.  Add onion and celery, and sauté until transparent.  Do not brown.  Sprinkle vegetables with flour, stir, and continue to cook over low heat for 10 minutes.  Do not brown.  Add chilled chicken stock and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce to a simmer and add potatoes.  Tie thyme, bay leaf, marjoram, parsley, peppercorns, and garlic in a cheesecloth and add to simmering soup.  Remove corn from cob with a sharp knife; add corn to soup.  Simmer until potatoes are tender.  Add half-and-half or light cream and return to simmer.  Season with salt and white pepper to taste.  Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with a dollop of butter.

 If you want to add poached chicken, place chicken breasts in a pan of cold water, and cover with water.  You'll need about an inch of water above the breasts for proper poaching.  Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat down to simmer, cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes.   Slice and dice as needed!

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