Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Chowder Head

My great-uncle Gallagher has this favorite phrase for those of us kids who weren't thinking with a full brain - he calls us "chowder heads." And he does so with that devilish grin that makes you feel like part of his inner circle, even if you are a chowder head.

Maybe it's because I was researching some family stuff two nights ago, but he popped into my mind as I was thinking about what to make for the Firebird Festival party. Why not corn chowder? I can serve it in a cup so it's not messy or cumbersome, and if we're heading out into the cold, what better way to ward off the chill?

Here's a version I've yet to perfect, but I've certainly given it a go and love it.

Creamiest Corn Chowder on the Planet

1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 c. vegetable broth
1 medium potato, grated (I used Yukon gold)
1 can cream-style corn
2 c. frozen corn, thawed
3 c. milk (or soy milk for vegan)
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. turmeric
2 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Spray a little nonstick cooking spray in a soup pot. Fry onion, pepper, and tomatoes for 5 minutes. (I use a little oil to start, then add water to steam them once there's a little flavor. Cuts down on the fat.) Add broth and potato and cook uncovered until the broth reduces a bit. Stir in canned and thawed corn and milk. Heat until hot, but not boiling. Make sure to stir constantly so nothing sticks. If you want to make it thicker, you can add 1 c. of cream, but since we shy away from added fat, I'd suggest flour or cornstarch instead. Serves about 8.

For me, reducing liquids such as broth and wine bases is a great way to thicken a soup without adding flours or creams. It takes just a few extra minutes and it really helps if you're watching your weight.

Also, I'm a big fan of reducing oils and using water to "fry" with instead. Once I fry for a minute or two and the veggies take on the frying "flavor" I add water to speed up the softening and reduce any additional oil I might add.

Do you have any tips to make food lower in fat or calories?

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