Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cheesy Potato Corn Chowder (Leek Potato Soup With Corn & Cheese)

Occasionally we start out to do one thing but allow ourselves to go with the flow and end up with something amazingly fantastic. This chowder is an example of one of these events. Serendipity! I started out making a 'leek-potato soup' and Chellu wanted to help. It was fun cooking together and the spirit of adventure was high. Before long Chellu was bursting with suggestions of additions or substitutions (what if we add some of this and what if we added this instead of that ... etc) which sounded pretty good to me and that is how we ended up with this Cheesy Potato Corn Chowder also known as "What If Soup". It was so delicious that Paji said we should write it down so we could make it again. So here it is. Enjoy!

Serves 8


2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Fresh Leek
1 small Stalk Celery
1 tsp Sea Salt
5 or 6 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
1/4 to 1/2 tsp Dried Red Pepper flakes
1/2 tsp Turmeric
Freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
3 Large Potatoes
1 pkg (1 lb) frozen Corn kernels
1 Large Red Bell Pepper
1 qt Water
3 cups Milk
2 Tbsp Flour + 1/4 cup water
2 Cups grated low-fat Mexican Medley Cheese (or Cheddar type Cheese)
1/4 cup finely sliced Fresh Garlic Chives (or regular chives)
1 green Onion, (only the green part) finely sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Prepare the vegetables:

Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and rinse thoroughly especially between layers where soil tends to hide. Remove root ends and cut off most of the dark green leaves. Thinly slice the white and pale green parts.

Separate the celery ribs and wash thoroughly; trim root ends and any brown or yellowed parts. Slice thinly and include any leaves.

Remove stem, seeds and membranes from the bell pepper and dice.

Wash and dry the potatoes; cube into bite size pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot; add leeks, celery, red pepper flakes, pepper, turmeric and salt. Stir cook until the vegetables soften, about 4 or 5 minutes.

Add the diced bell pepper, potatoes, corn, milk and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer the soup for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft but not mushy.

Stir in the flour-water slurry, increase heat so that the soup is gently boiling and cook until thickened. Turn off the heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Check the soup - the broth should be creamy; if it is thin, mash a few of the potato pieces with the back of the spoon and stir in.

Stir in the herbs and cheese and serve hot with freshly ground pepper.

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