We’ve been having really cold weather for Southern California. I don’t mind it … cold reminds me of Vermont in the winter, except here we don’t have to wait for the snowplow to come before we can get out of the house. The snow that fell for New Year’s Eve has melted, but the freezing temperatures are still threatening crops in the area, including our avocados. There isn’t much to do about the weather except pray that the low temperatures will not last long enough to freeze the fruit. I like to distract myself with soup. Chopping up onions and celery is therapeutic. Since I have some cream on hand, and some canned crabmeat…plus sweet corn, it’s the perfect time for chowder!
The secret to good chowder is bacon. You have to use really, really good bacon. It’s the same with beans. If you want tasty beans, the bacon has to be really good. The best bacon I know about is from Mahogany Smoked Meats in Bishop, California. If you live in California, you must try this bacon. Sadly, they don’t ship smoked meats outside of California…but if you vacation anywhere near Bishop, Ca. it’s worth a stop to pick up some jerky and some bacon, and maybe a few smoked pork chops. I order mine and have it shipped to the ranch. The last time I ordered bacon, I tried one of their packages of bacon ends and pieces. This week I took the bag out of the freezer, and fried the pieces in a pan to render the fat. I used 1/3 of the pieces for beans, 1/3 for this chowder, and the other third for a pot of potato leek soup. I poured that good bacon fat into a container to save in the fridge for home fried potatoes, or scrambled eggs.
Crab and Corn Chowder
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (I use Kerrygold)
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 lb. cooked bacon, chopped into small pieces
12 oz. frozen sweet corn kernels
1 large russet potato, chopped into small pieces without removing the skin
1-2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1 bay leaf
32 oz. box of Kitchen Basics Seafood Stock
1 lb. crabmeat (I buy canned Chicken of the Sea crabmeat at Trader Joe’s)
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
In a large stock pot, sauté the onion and celery in the butter. Add the bacon and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the corn, and the potato, the bay leaf and Old Bay seasoning. Pour the stock into the pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the crab meat. Add the milk and cream, stirring until the soup is velvety. Remove the bay leaf before serving. Serve hot with sprinkled cayenne pepper on top, if desired. Sliced avocados are really good on top of chowder too….we just didn’t have a ripe one for this soup!
Disclosure: Kerrygold sent me some of their awesome butter as part of a contest prize. I was not paid to write this post and all opinions are mine.