Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chicken Corn Chowder - Cozy and Comfy



Cincinnati is far from being chilly right now. Just two weeks into March and the temperature are constantly in the neighborhood of 70sF (20sC). “Its early spring!” says The Weather Channel. And a gorgeous spring it is indeed! Greenery is back and so are the birdies and the kiddies and the pollen and the allergens!

As I walk through the color riot of fresh produce in my Farmer’s Market, sniffling and sneezing, my heart craves for something warm, cozy and soothing. What I wanted was the Best Chicken Sweet Corn Soup, prepared, served and preferably fed to me by Ma. She makes the best soup and no matter how hard I try, the taste is simply “non-recreatable”. Well, it is true for almost all her recipes.

Coming back to my craving, I wanted a thick and creamy soup and not the thin watery types (I have nothing against them. I L-O-V-E them and often make them for myself and Sid, but just not in the mood!). In one corner of the market, I found “Fresh Homemade Soup”. They were selling Tomato-Basil Soup, Minestrone Soup and Clam Chowder. The look, smell and the texture of the Clam Chowder was exactly what I was looking for. But ‘CLAM’ is a strict no-no for me; severe sea-food allergy you see! So had a cup full of Minestrone Soup, which was delicious but Chowder kept haunting me. Two hours later, I had read up all the Chowder recipes available on the World Wide Web. Excerpts:

    1. "In North America Chowder is a generic name for a wide variety of seafood or vegetable stews and thickened soups, often with milk or cream." Says Wiki.

    2. After the most popular Clam Chowder, you also have Corn Chowder and Chicken Chowder.

    3. Depending on the flavoring, you have Mexicanized, Italianized, Mediterraneanized or even Indianized version of your Chowder.

    4. The common ingredients in any chowder: Celery, Carrots, Onion/Shallots, Potato, Flour (thickening agent), Bacon, Milk, Cream and Chicken/ Vegetable Broth.

Since I intend to have the Chowder for my dinner, I added some chicken as the protein factor. Hence it became a Chicken Corn Chowder. Now, I need some swaps to make it really mine and diabetic friendly.

OUT – Can of cream of corn;
IN – Homemade cream of corn, by pureeing 1 cup of frozen corn with 1 cup of Fat-free milk.

OUT – 1 cup Heavy Cream;
IN – 1 cup of Fat Free Half and Half

OUT – 3 tbs of All Purpose Flour;
IN – 2 tsp of corn starch mixed with 1 tbs of chicken stock

Also, I added around 1 cup of quartered mushrooms, for its meaty texture and flavor and because I am obsessed with them. I did not add any potatoes. Potatoes and corn together in one dish…. way too much carb/ sugar to handle. You can add potatoes to it, if you please. And you can add any spices, like  a pinch of cumin or a pinch of all-spice or a pinch of dried oregano to give your own special touch.

A little prep work is needed on the chicken, corn and veggies. So here it goes:
PREP 1 - The Baked Chicken:


PREP 2 - The Home-made Cream of Corn: 


PREP 3 - The Veggies: 


Now for the cooking part:

What I used:
Corn Puree - 2 cups 
Cooked Chicken - 1 cup
Onions - 1 cup diced (1 medium is fine)
Celery - 1 cup diced (3 ribs approx)
Carrot - 1 cup diced (10-12 baby carrots approx)
Mushroom - 1 cup quartered (4 large and 3 small ones were used)
Garlic - 2 cloves minced
Corn - 1 cup (thawed)
Chicken Stock - 2 cups
cornstarch - 2 tsp mixed with 1 tbs of chicken stock
Fat free Half and Half - 1 cup
Nutmeg - a fat pinch
Olive Oil - 2 tbs
Salt
Pepper



How I did it:


Heat Olive/ Veg/ Canola oil in a large saucepan or soup pot.


Add the minced garlic and let it brown (not black!) lightly.


Add the onions and little salt and saute till translucent.


Add the carrots, celery and mushroom and saute till little softened.


Add the pureed corn and stir till the raw smell is gone.


Next add 2 cups of chicken stock, corn kernels, salt, pepper and nutmeg and bring to a boil.


Reduce heat and simmer for 20 mins, till the veggies are soft and cooked through.


Add the chicken pieces in the last 10 min of the simmering time.


I felt the starch from the pureed corn had thicken the soup considerably and hence omitted the cornstarch step. In case you find or feel your soup is a bit runnier, you can go ahead and add the corn starch-chicken stock mixture at this point.


Do a taste check and adjust the seasoning.


Finally, add the half and half and give it a good stir and take it off the heat.


Serve and enjoy!!!







I felt a little grated Parmesan would have enhanced the 'YUM' factor, but did not have any in hand. The chowder was everything that I expected and more. It was warm, creamy, comforting and absolutely delicious. I never had chowder before, so I wont compare, but it is worth giving a try.

Sid’s Verdict: He had the soup quietly. Answered my “How is it?”, with a frown, that make me go to the kitchen and do a taste check again and wonder what else can I do to make him eat his dinner fuss-free. Fifteen minutes later, he hugged me and said, “Its YUMMY Mommy, Thank you!” My day (or night) is made!


Diabetic Platter: Diabetic Platter: I have no idea about the caloric content of this dish. I had a big bowl of the soup, approx 14 oz and my fasting blood sugar, next morning was normal (117) . Hence, I can suggest this as a wholesome dinner. My 14 oz of soup was enough to make me feel full, but you can add 2 slices of whole grain bread to complete your dinner. Desert for me was a small bowl of juicy, super delicious strawberry!

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