January 2, 2012
Southwest Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder
There is something about a hearty soup that makes a person feel all warm and cozy. Who doesn't like to curl up on a Sunday night with a hot bowl of soup and watch a movie (sorry Giants/Cowboys). One of my favorite soups to make is Southwest Corn Chowder. It has chunks of red pepper and sweet potato and a generous helping of corn and spices to make this a well rounded and delicious soup.
I found this recipe about 4 years ago in a cookbook that focuses on two person meals. It features meals that range from simple to complex with serving sizes for two people, or one person with leftovers. This chowder is easy to make and doesn't take a whole bunch of time from start to finish so it is perfect for a Sunday night dinner after a long weekend.
I pull out all my ingredients, throw the bacon in the cast iron to crisp and start chopping away. I start with red bell pepper, onion and garlic then move on to the sweet potato and chipotle chilies. I usually make this with serranos and Anaheim chilies, but it's been a while since I used chipotle in there so I wanted to try the original recipe again. I also pull out chicken broth, half and half and some frozen corn to start thawing while I cook.
Tossing the bell pepper, onion and garlic in a soup pan with some olive oil starts the actual cooking. I saute for about 3 minutes until the onion is translucent and the peppers soften. I will be cooking them longer so I'm not looking for them to be really soft, but enough to break down the onion - no crunchy onions in this dish. After getting the onion translucent I add the potatoes, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce (from the chipotle can), and chicken broth. Next I bring everything to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer until the potatoes to soft, about 15 minutes.
Once my potatoes are soft, I toss in the salt and pepper, corn, bacon and a cup of half and half. I stir everything well and let simmer for an additional 5 minutes or so.
Time to eat! I settle in with a big bowl of soup topped with some sour cream and a tall glass of milk. I am really looking forward to this bowl of soup. First bite is... OK. It is sweeter then I remember, I knew it was going to be somewhat sweet, but it was really sweet. Chipotle chilies have a smoky taste to them which can bring a certain sweetness to a dish, but the adobo sauce is what really did it I'm sure. Adobo is a spicy/sweet sauce and although it is really good to mix with mayo or a marinade, I'm not sure about this soup. The past few times I have omitted that part and just added serrano and anaheim peppers with some hot sauce. The sweet potato and red bell pepper adds enough sweet and in the future I'll be sticking to my version.
The other issue I had with this dish was the oil. As I'm sure you can see, there is quite a bit in the soup. I was baffled when I saw the oil starting to separate once I added the cream into the pot. I must have gone way overboard when I put oil in to saute the onions and peppers, or I was thrown off by the deep, black non-stick pan. Who knows, but next time I will be more careful about how much oil I am using.
The dish itself was good. It was spicy and hearty and creamy and very filling. Cleanup was a breeze and I'll have another bowl of soup to enjoy another night.
Southwest Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder Ingredients (revised)
The measurements are guesstimated, and should be used as a guideline for amounts.
3/4 cup roughly chopped onion
3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 large sweet potato diced
2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce finely diced
2 tsp adobo sauce (from the can)
Chicken broth to cover potatoes
1 cup corn (or 1 can creamed corn and some frozen corn)
1 cup half and half
Salt and Pepper to taste
Bacon - optional
Crushed red pepper - optional