Bacon Corn Chowder

FINALLY, fall weather is upon us! We’ve had kind of a wonky summer up here in the Mitten – a few cooler-than-normal weekends in July and August, a lot of rain, and some weird, hotter-than-hell days where they shouldn’t have been. As an example, this past Wednesday. There is no reason in this world that Wednesday should have had a high of 95 degrees (with a heat index of about 100°), but it did, and it was kind of awful. Thankfully, the last couple days have brought some storms that have dragged in a cool front – and our high today is 61°! The temperatures are going to be in the low 40s tonight! (Maybe you think I’m nuts for being excited about that – but that is some perfect windows-open, blankets-piled-on-the-bed, my-face-is-so-cold-I-can’t-feel-it, sleeping weather.)

Anyways, the onset of chillier weather always makes me crave soup. A big bowl of soup and a Michigan football game is a perfect Saturday afternoon combination, if you ask me! In reality, I made this soup back in early August – when it should have been 100 degrees and humid, but it was 65° and pouring rain. Go figure!

Bacon Corn Chowder

This soup is nice and hearty, smoky and sweet, and delicious with some toasted, cheesy bread for dipping.

Bacon Corn Chowder
Makes 8-12 servings, depending on size

6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium russet potatoes (about 2lb) cut into 1/2″ dice
8 cobs of corn (about 3 cups of kernels)
4-6 cups of whole milk
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 T cornstarch
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

1.) Heat a large pot over medium heat. Cook the bacon until crisp, and remove it with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but one tablespoon of the bacon grease.

2.) Add the onion and garlic, and sweat them until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

3.) Add the corn and potatoes to the pan, along with the salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and stir to combine everything. Pour the whole milk in, adding as much as you need to cover all the potatoes and corn (I used about 5 cups). Allow the soup to come up to a boil, and immediately reduce it to a simmer.

Bacon Corn Chowder

4.) Once the soup is simmering, whisk the cornstarch and a tablespoon of milk together in a small dish. Pour the slurry into the soup, and stir it in – this will help the soup thicken up a bit. Allow the soup to simmer for about 30 minutes until it’s slightly thickened, and the potatoes are cooked through.

5.) Taste the potatoes for seasoning – if a potato tastes a little bland, add more salt to taste. Add the bacon back into the pot just before serving.

Just because I like you guys, I’m going to offer you a little pro tip: check to be sure there is a shaker top on your bottle of red pepper flakes, before you shake it over the soup pot. If there’s NOT, you’re going to spend the next five minutes playing a little game called “Do You Think I Fished Enough Pepper Flakes Out Of The Soup, Or Will It Still Light Our Tongues On Fire?” And while that is certainly a way to pass some time on a rainy day, I can’t say I’d recommend it.

Bacon Corn Chowder

This soup would be a great way to kick off the fall season! It keeps well in the fridge for a few days, and I think it would hold up nicely in a crock pot, if you wanted to make it for a tailgate or something similar.

You know what else is a perfect fall food? Cider Mill Donut Bread Pudding!


Potato Leek Soup

Similar to my Green Chicken Enchilada Casserole, this dish doesn’t photograph particularly well – but it IS delicious. It’s hearty, but not heavy, and it’s perfectly warm and comforting (ideal, given that the weather in Michigan this week is BITTERLY cold, to put it politely). Even better, it’s simple to make, and you can top it with whatever you like!

Potato Leek Soup
serves 4
recipe adapted from here

2 T salted butter
3 medium leeks, white and light green parts
1.5 lb yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced small
4 c chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup buttermilk
salt and pepper
Toppings: shredded cheddar, crumbled bacon, sour cream, chives

1.) Start by prepping your leeks. To start, cut off the thick, dark green tops, as well as the roots. Slice them lengthwise, and then slice them into half moons about 1/2″ thick. Fill a large bowl with cold water, and place the leeks into the water, using your hands to break up the layers as much as you can. Leeks get a LOT of dirt stuck between their leaves as they grow, so you have to wash them VERY thoroughly to get rid of it all. Once all the leeks are sliced and in the bowl, use your hands to swish them around one last time, and let them sit for a few minutes, so all the dirt can settle to the bottom of the bowl.

Cleaning leeks

2.) Heat a large pot over medium heat, and add your butter. Once the butter is melted and hot, use a large slotted spoon (or a spider) to gently scoop the leeks out of the cold water (being careful not to disturb the water too much, so the dirt doesn’t get all stirred up), allow them to drain, and put them in the pot. Stir to coat all the leeks with butter, and season with a large pinch of salt.

3.) Allow the leeks to cook until quite soft, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock, diced potatoes, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and bring the mixture to a boil. Once the soup boils, lower the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot. Allow the soup to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and cooked through.

Potato Leek Soup (before blending)

4.) When the potatoes are tender, remove the soup from the heat and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender; just remember to only fill the blender about 2/3, and to take the clear center of the lid out (you can gently hold a towel over the hole), so steam can escape, and you don’t end up covering yourself in hot soup!

5.) Once the soup is blended, return it to the stove over low heat, and add the heavy cream and buttermilk. Heat through, and serve garnished with whatever toppings you like!

Potato Leek Soup with Bacon and Cheddar

We like to top our potato leek soup with some crumbled bacon, a bit of shredded cheddar, and some greek yogurt (or sour cream). If I had remembered to pick them up at the store, we would have also used some chopped chives. Perfect for a cold, blustery day!

Only 4 more months of soup weather,

Creamy Jalapeño Chicken Chili

One of my favorite things about fall, and the cool weather, is that it’s finally time to make soup again! More specifically, it’s time to make chili. As soon as the weather starts to warm up in the Spring, and a hot bowl of chili sounds unappealing, I start thinking about how long it will be until I can make chili again… and once Summer starts to wind down, and the nights get a little more crisp and cool? I make sure to have all the supplies for chili on hand, so the second the urge strikes, I can get a pot of it simmering on the stove.

I’ve already shared my favorite, more traditional chili with you all… but I have been meaning to come up with a good chicken chili, and I finally had the chance last weekend. It’s a bit lighter overall, less spice-heavy (but still has a kick), and really, really tasty. This may end up becoming my new favorite variety of chili!

Creamy Jalapeño Chicken Chili*
Serves 6

1 T olive oil
1 T butter
2 medium carrots, diced small
1 medium sweet onion, diced small
1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T all-purpose flour
3 c chicken stock
a pinch of red pepper flakes
2 cans diced tomatoes (fire-roasted or plain)
1 can ro-tel (or other diced tomatoes with chilies)
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 lb chicken breast, cooked and diced
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper

*If you are not into spicy food (and this is not SUPER spicy, but it does have a little bit of heat), you can certainly omit the jalapeños and red pepper flakes, and it will still be incredibly delicious!

sour cream or greek yogurt
chopped pickled jalapeños
grated smoked cheddar cheese

1.) Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, and add olive oil and butter to the pan. Add diced carrots and onions, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2.) Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables, and stir until all the vegetables are coated, and all the flour is moistened. Continue to stir and cook the flour-coated vegetables for another 2 minutes or so, to ensure that the raw flour flavor has been cooked out.

3.) Add chicken stock, and use a whisk or wooden spoon to scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow the broth to come up to a good simmer.

4.) Sprinkle red pepper flakes over the chili, and then pour diced tomatoes, ro-tel, and cannellini beans in; stir to combine, add another pinch each of salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to come up to a simmer again.

5.) Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes, until the broth thickens, and gains a kind of creamy consistency. Once this happens, add your chicken and heavy cream, and continue cooking until both are heated through, about 5 minutes.

Serve with your favorite toppings – I used an applewood smoked cheddar (this should be fairly easy to find in the “specialty cheeses” case at your grocery store), greek yogurt, and some diced pickled jalapeños. I think the smoked cheese worked really well with the fire-roasted diced tomatoes, and the pickled jalapeños added the bit of acid that I always look for in any dish. You could certainly use any kind of cheese you prefer, and if something like diced raw onion or minced raw jalapeño is your thing, throw that right on top, too!

This keeps wonderfully in the fridge, and reheats really well. I like to make a big pot of chili on the weekend, and use it for lunches all week!

I am beginning to think I have a chili problem,

Chicken Chili with Cheddar Hushpuppy Crust.

It’s no secret that soups are not met with thunderous applause at my house. I don’t even dream of making them in the summertime, when the air conditioning struggles to keep my house at the pleasant (?) 80 degrees. But once fall starts slooooooowly creeping in, I get the urge to make some sort soup in a way that’s not really soup.

An old friend pointed me in the direction of this recipe last week, and we loved it. Word on the street is that only Martha White cornbread mixes hold up to the onion and cheese, so I naturally sought the correct mix before I began.

Chicken Chili with Cheddar Hushpuppy Crust
adapted from Food Network

1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cups chopped onion, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1-2 jalapenoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
juice of 2 limes
1 19 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1 14 oz. can chicken broth
1 4 1/2 oz. can mild green chiles, drained

For Crust:
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
3 tbsp butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1 6 oz package Martha White brand Cotton Pickin’ or Buttermilk cornbread mix
1 cup shredded cheddar

Sour cream
Shredded cheddar

Preheat the oven to 400.

Heat a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil, and saute 1 cup onion with peppers, until soft. Add garlic, cumin and chili powder, cook until fragrant. Add the lime juice, cannellini beans, chicken, broth, and green chiles, and stir until just combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Add the milk, butter and cornbread mix, and blend well. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup onion and the cheese. Pour over the chicken chili in the skillet, doing your best to spread the topping evenly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cornbread is golden brown. Allow to rest at least 5 minutes before serving.


Go Cocks!