I grew up on chowder. Seafood, mainly. A creamy, savoury broth chock full of juicy pieces of lobster, scallops, haddock and clams (a real east coast Canada speciality). My dad is the chowder-master in our house. He likes to fry bacon separately, until crisp, and crumble it over the top of the chowder as a garnish instead of incorporating it into the soup itself. It's a good method.
Me? I like to combine my dad's recipe with a few tricks I've picked up along the way as a chef. Fresh herbs in chowder are a must, as is a splash of acidity – either citrus or wine will do the trick.
Your chowder doesn't always need to be seafood focused, either. I love making this spicy corn chowder in the cooler autumn months. The corn can be fresh or tinned – it's sweetness pairs really well with the spicy chili pepper. I always use bacon in chowder, but you can leave it out if you want to keep the recipe vegetarian.
While, in seafood chowders, my fresh herbs of choice would be the classic combo of dill, parsley, chives and/or tarragon, in this recipe I use fresh coriander and green onion. This chowder is hefty enough to eat as a meal, but if you keep reducing the broth until thickened, you can serve it as a creamed corn side dish – perfect with grilled steak as the weather gets cooler.
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 chili pepper (keep the seeds if you like it spicy), finely chopped
1 package streaky bacon, thinly sliced
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 400g tin sweetcorn or four ears of fresh corn, removed from the cob
Juice from one lime
700ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
1 400ml tin evaporated milk or 250ml cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1. Prep all of your vegetables and set aside.
2. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat on medium and add the rapeseed oil. Add the sliced bacon to the pot and fry until cooked through and crisp, around 10 minutes.
3. Add the onion and chili pepper. Keep cooking for an additional 10 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the lime juice to deglaze the bottom of the pan.
5. Add the hot chicken stock and sweetcorn. Bring to a simmer and gently cook for 20-25 minutes.
6. Add the evaporated milk or cream, bring up to a simmer again and gently cook for an additional 10 minutes (or until the soup has thickened to your liking).
7. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
8. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh coriander and green onion. Serve hot in big bowls.