It is hard to believe that summer is winding down, and we are getting closer to fall. Fall is a beautiful time of year, and when you are in Chicago, you hope for a nice long fall season, because we all know what happens after that. The farmers markets are in full swing, and I am thinking of tomatoes, corn, potatoes and combining them all in an easy chowder.
Chowder is a rich hearty soup that starts with a base of salt pork or bacon and a mix of vegetables like celery, corn and potatoes. Most chowders are creamy, but one of my favorites is Manhattan Clam Chowder which happens to be tomato based.
In this chowder recipe, I am using celery, red pepper, fresh corn and beautiful fresh tomatoes from Michigan. When there isn't a farmer's market happening near me, I love to shop at Harvesttime Foods, a local neighborhood grocery/butcher store in Lincoln Square.
If you don't have access to fresh corn, you can always substitute frozen corn.
This recipe calls for peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes, which can be achieved by blanching. Blanching helps you remove the seeds and skin of the fresh tomatoes easily. Make an incision in the bottom of each tomato in a cross pattern. Lower them into a pot of boiling water and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes and place them in an ice bath. At this point, you'll see the skin start to peel off so you can easily remove the rest of it with a pairing knife. Cut the tomatoes in four pieces, remove the seeds and dice them into small chunks. See the steps of blanching tomatoes (and get another great recipe for them) in this post.
Besides the fresh vegetables, another important element in a soup or chowder is the stock. A flavorful stock can only result in a delicious dish! You also want to include sautéed aromatics (think onions, celery, pepper and garlic), seasonings and finishing touches such as sour cream, heavy cream, milk, or grated Parmesan cheese.
Soups can be puréed or left chunky, depending on your taste. I like this chowder recipe left chunky so you are able to identify all the different vegetables as you enjoy them.
Soups freeze well, so you can make a large batch of this, portion it out in containers and freeze them to make it easy to reheat whenever you are ready to enjoy a great bowl of soup.
Tomato Chowder with Bacon and Corn
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: 6 servings
Active time: 35 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour
1/4 pound bacon, diced
1 onion, medium dice
1 small green pepper, medium dice
2 stalks celery, medium dice
1 teaspoon chili powder blend
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon Espelette pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken stock
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium dice
2 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of nutmeg
Lemon juice to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil, leaves torn
- Heat a heavy soup pot over medium-low heat, and cook the bacon until crispy.
- Add the onion, celery, pepper and gently sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the chili powder blend, coriander and Espelette pepper, and gently sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 1 minute more.
- Mix in the stock and potatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, corn, heavy cream and nutmeg, and heat through.
- Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, whisk in the basil, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
I taught our popular Flavor Dynamics class last weekend which focuses on the five tastes. This recipe is featured in the class because it has elements of them all: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami. My students enjoyed it very much, and I hope you will too.
If you want to learn how to make another delicious seasonal soup, join us for a virtual class featuring Seafood Cioppino on Thursday, October 28 at 6pm CST. You'll make and enjoy:
- Cioppino with Shrimp, Mussels and Seasonal Fish
- Arugula Salad with Lemon and Parmesan