Slightly Spicy Potato and Corn Chowder

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I love soup because it's so versatile. It can serve as a snack, a drink, or even a meal, and it's always, always so comforting. It's hard to pick a favorite soup, but something hearty is always good. I usually go for Loaded Potato or Broccoli Cheddar at Panera's.

To get myself through the bone-chilling cold of winter, I decided to make my own potato soup at home, but with corn, because the only thing better than potato soup is potato corn soup! I added some chili pepper to spice things up because I like it spicy, but the spiciness was definitely mellowed out by the milk and sweet corn.

Slightly Spicy Potato and Corn Soup, adapted from this recipe
Yields one large pot, about 6 bowls of soup

8 small potatoes, quartered
1 leek, washed and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 chili pepper, deseeded and diced (be careful)
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
3 cups of milk
2 cups of corn
1 tablespoon of butter
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
1 or 2 bay leaves, if desired

Place quartered potatoes and 2 teaspoons of salt in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow potatoes to stand in the hot water for an additional 5 minutes, then drain and cut into quarter-inch cubes.

Melt the butter in a pot, and add onions and leeks. Cook for 3 minutes, then add minced garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the diced chili pepper, and cook for 30 seconds. Add 3 tablespoons of flour to the mixture and stir until the flour is a "blonde" color. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and cayenne pepper, if you wish.

Add the potatoes, corn, stock and bay leaves, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and add the milk. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaves and stir in more cayenne, or any garnishes. Heat to serve.

The bane of my existence that day.

This is one of those dishes that tastes better as a leftover, after the spiciness of the pepper has evened itself out among the other ingredients. Be very, very careful while deseeding a chili pepper -- I assumed, because chili peppers aren't particularly spicy -- that the seeds wouldn't cause too much damage. I was so wrong. After only touching a couple of stray seeds while washing out the insides of the pepper, I suffered burning hands for half the day. I carefully Googled (with gloves, as the spiciness is "contagious) different methods of cutting the burn. I tried no less than 8 methods before finding one that worked for me -- citric acid. I rubbed a lime onto my hands and then soaked my fingertips inside lime halves, and that seemed to cut through the burn. Olive oil barely worked, milk certainly did not work, fresh aloe gel did not work ... you name it, I tried it.

Anyway, this soup was delicious and had a nice slightly green tint to it from the leeks and pepper (I used a green chili pepper). I would definitely make it again -- it reminded me of the Southwest and cowboys, though I'm pretty sure that's all in my head.

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