So it’s finally here: our first real storm of the winter season, complete with rain, wind, and plenty of below average temps. As someone who finds nothing good about cold, wet weather except for the fact that I get to wear PJ’s with feet (yes, they make me look like I’m a giant four year old, but I don’t care… I love them!), this evil storm thrills me not. However, it does give me the excuse to have more soup than I normally would, and that goes extremely well with the aforementioned fuzzy, warm pajamas.
Though the weather was still relatively nice a couple of days ago, I made a batch of my Creamy Navy Bean Soup with Chicken & Veggies (sans bread bowls, as I had none) to prep myself for the upcoming storm, and it has served me well thus far. Today, however, I was not only running out of said soup; I was also in the mood for something a little different. I had all the makings of my Hearty Mushroom & Potato Soup ready to go, but wanted to save my mushrooms for a different recipe. A quick scan of my cupboards resulted in a fabulous treasure trove of plenty of canned corn, so I decided to use those to make a quick, but extremely hearty & delicious chowder to chase away the cold.
Every time I make a new soup recipe, I’m overcome with excitement of how amazing soup can be, and this time was no different. Seriously, Poor Girl? You think soup is “amazing”? Yes…. yes, I do. As I’ve mentioned before, soup is filling, nutritious, and can make use of a whole bunch of ingredients you wouldn’t otherwise think of using. Today’s soup is by no means exotic, but it does take care of a lot of the third major soup function: it makes use of a whole bunch of ingredients you wouldn’t otherwise use. Really, what else can I do with a ton of canned corn when it’s 40 below (okay, it’s like 45°, but to me, that is near arctic…)? Combined with some red potatoes I had in Big Bowl and the last few red bell peppers from my urban garden (how lucky am I to still have a fruitful garden?!), this made for a hearty, filling, and delicious soup.
Now, I understand that it may be a bit odd to add the term “fiesta” to a dish that has no other traditional “fiesta” type ingredients except for the peppers & jalapeños. I mean, heck… there’s an entire tablespoon of thyme in this soup! Not exactly a “fiesta” herb at all, right? But fiesta means “party”, and the different colors in this particular chowder are so lovely that they look like a ton of fun, as a party should be. Therefore, this dish is named after the fun of the colors used in it: yellows, reds, greens, magentas… it’s as beautiful a soup to look at as it is to enjoy. Though the peppers are a prominent part of the chowder, they are barely sweet and only added at the end, in order to make the most of their textures & flavors. Everything else in the soup is mild, rich and comforting, only making the crunch and spice of the sweet peppers all that more exciting. To make a more sinful soup, try adding about 3/4 cups of shredded cheese; otherwise, take heart in the fact that this soup is simple to make, good for you, and most of all, delicious.
Fiesta Corn & Potato Chowder (makes 6 servings; total cost per serving: $1.45)
1/2 c diced onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 medium red potatoes, diced into 1/2″ pieces
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
2 T olive oil
1 14 oz can chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 c milk
1 T thyme
1 T salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat and add the oil. When hot, add the onions & garlic and sauté until they become fragrant and just begin to turn translucent. Next, add the potatoes, salt, thyme and black pepper, and cook until the potatoes begin to brown slightly. Add the broth and bring to a low boil; simmer for about 5 minutes, until the potatoes soften. Add the corn kernels and the milk and bring back to a low boil.
Remove about 3/4 of the soup mixture and carefully puree in a food processor or with a hand blender until completely smooth. Return the puree to the pot, add the peppers, and bring to a slow simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, ladle into soup bowls, garnish with freshly ground black pepper, and enjoy!