As I write this, I have a batch of focaccia rising in the kitchen … guess what recipe is going to be featured later this week!  Yes, you could say I’m in full-bore “cooking for the cold weather” mode – I woke up this morning and was greeted with horizontal rain and temperatures in the 40s.  Then, to add insult to serious frost-bitten injury, I got an e-mail from my sister today telling me that it’s going to 70 degrees in my hometown later this week.  She is soooooo off my Christmas list!  BUT … when you have a nice bit of leftover chowder to warm you up at lunch, that helps take the bitter edge off …

I’ve been faffing around with this recipe for the last 10 years or so.  It’s one of those easy-to-tinker-with-and-nearly-impossible-to-screw-up recipes that everyone should have in their go-to file.  You can adapt it to your own taste – add more potato to make it thicker, use cream and butter to make it richer, top it with a swirl of buttermilk or sour cream to add a little tanginess,  ratchet up the heat with a whole scotchbonnet … the possibilities are only as limited as you want them to be.  I had a bit of southern homesickness yesterday, so I served it with a Carolina pulled-pork sammich and let me tell you – I have found a culinary combo that is right up there with peanut butter and jelly.  It’s a meal so good, you’ll see the face of Elvis.

Southwestern Corn Chowder

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, small dice
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, small dice
  • 1/2 orange pepper, small dice
  • 1 red chilli pepper, seeded and minced (mild) or 2 peppers if you want a little fiyah
  • 1 1/2 cups potato, peeled and diced (use a waxy potato that will hold its shape)
  • 1 regular-sized can of corn, drained ) about 14 oz
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped well
  • juice of a lime

In a large pot, head the olive oil over medium-high heat then add the onion and peppers and cook until translucent, seasoning lightly.  Add the potato and corn, mixing to incorporate and cook for about a minute before adding the chicken stock.  Bring the pot to the boil, then reduce to low, partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are cooked, about 20-30 minutes.  Remove half the soup and blend until thoroughly pureed.  Pour back into the pot and add the milk, then check for seasoning.  Let cook another 10 minutes to make sure it’s back up to temp, then add the cilantro, stir well and serve with a squeeze of lime.

Simple and hearty chowder for a cold winter night


by the way, if you DO want to add the scotch bonnet, make SURE you don’t overcook it too much to the point where it falls apart AND make sure you don’t blend it down … the soup will be so spicey, you won’t be able to hear your own screams …