Monday, December 17, 2012

Cajun Corn Chowder


If you are a novice in the kitchen, making soup is an excellent place to start.  Soups are super easy, super flavorful, and very comforting.  This recipe requires very little actual "skills" in the kitchen, yet tastes like you spent hours making it.  The soup is wonderfully textured, sweet from the corn, smoky from the spiced ham and warms you up from the inside.

I grew up with my Mom making a lovely corn soup, usually from a left-over ham.  It's so perfect on a cold and rainy evening.  Even now when I'm leaving work and it's dark and rainy, my mind drifts to some type of soup.  It also freezes wonderfully.

Ingredients:  (Makes 8 - 10 cups)
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter
  • 1 cup of finely chopped onion 
  • 1 Tbsp (about 3 large cloves) garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (about 2 large ribs) celery, finely chopped
  • 1 slightly rounded cup (1 pack) Tasso * (See food nerd notes at bottom)
    • or use a highly seasoning, very smoky ham
  • 2 (15oz) cans cream style corn
  • 1/2 (15 oz) can white/yellow whole corn niblets, drained
  • 2 cups diced potatoes, peeled if using a large variety
    • for small, thin skinned "new" potatoes, you can just wash them and leave the skins on.
  • 3 cups chicken broth/stock
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 rounded tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
Optional -
    • heavy cream   (for finishing.  NOT added in with the other ingredients during cooking.)

Step-by-Step -
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup diced celery
In case you are wondering, I am adding into this container for a reason.  I was prepping two different soups at once, and I didn't want to get my seasonings mixed up.  This brings up a good tip about prepping ahead of time. Friends of mine have conveyed that they dislike the "chopping" part of prepping for a meal.  If you do more than one meal prep at a time and just throw the ingredients in the fridge or freezer, you have just knocked out a significant amount of time on that second meal.  You already have everything out.... so just chop and store. :)  
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter
Saute onions, celery, garlic in butter
Allow them to become soft and translucent before adding additional ingredients

While sauteing the vegetables, chop your tasso (or ham).  It comes from a specialty meats store, you you will most likely have it in a shrink wrapped packaging.  They typically come packaged two pieces to a pack.
You can see that they are enveloped in a thick layer of seasoning and spices.  They can be quite spicy depending on who prepared them, but not always.  But they WILL be very smoky.

I cut them into about 1/2" pieces.
When the vegetables are soft, go ahead and add the tasso.
Now, just dump everything in (except the cream).
2 (15 oz) cans cream style corn
1/2 can white and yellow corn niblets, drained
2 cups diced potatoes
3 cups chicken broth/stock
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp kosher salt
1 rounded tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
Here it is initially after adding everything.  It is quite thin now.  Bring this to a full boil for a couple of minutes, then turn down to simmer.  Simmer uncovered for an hour.  The starches in the corn will do a lovely job of making this "creamy" and thick.  (You could just throw this in a crock pot/slow cooker.)
Here you can see the soup has reduced somewhat and thickened up.  At this point (after the hour), you can add some cream to the soup for an even creamier (LOL) texture and taste.  But it really is quite nice without it.  If you do add the cream, warm it a bit first and just warm it gently.  You don't want to boil it or the cream will "break" on you and curdle.
 

Garnish simply - some parsley, a chopped tomato, a bit of black pepper.  Lovely when accompanied by some corn bread muffins. 

*Tip - A regular smoked ham will work for this recipe if you can't locate tasso.  However, if you ARE using tasso, be careful in adding additional pepper.  The one I used was not, but tasso can be very spicy from some smoke houses.   This Tasso came from Days Smokehouse.  35770 Old La Highway 16, Denham Springs, LA 70706.  (225) 271-8709.  
I'm sure they would be willing to ship some to you!


Written Directions
Saute the onion, garlic, and celery in the butter until soft and the tiniest bit brown. Add in all the remaining ingredients.  Yep, just dump them in and give it a good stir.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer for about an hour without the lid.  The potatoes should be soft by now.

*Optional - you can add some heavy cream (~ 2/3 cup) to the final product, but it is lovely even without it.  If you elect to add the cream, warm the cream first in a little pan and add it to the soup.  Don't boil the soup with the cream, or it will curdle. So keep it on a medium or so.  The soup is cooked, you are just warming the cream now.  The cream is not necessary, but it does give it a lovely mouth feel and ....er.... creaminess that I enjoy.  The soup in the photos do NOT have the cream in them, as I am planning on freezing this soup for an occasion we have coming up.  I will add cream after I thaw and gently warm the soup.

Food Nerd Notes - 
Tasso Ham is a specialty of Cajun cuisine.  In this case, "ham" is a misnomer, since tasso is not made from the leg of a pig, but the shoulder butt. This cut is typically fatty though leaner cuts are often used and has a great deal of flavor. The butt, which will weigh 7 to 8 pounds, is sliced across the grain into pieces about 3 in thick. These are then dredged in a salt cure, which usually includes nitrates and sugar. The meat is left to cure very briefly, only three or four hours, then rinsed, rubbed with a spice mixture which is sure to contain cayenne and garlic, and hot-smoked until cooked through. Tasso is not typically eaten on its own, but may be found in dishes ranging from pasta to crab cakes, soup to gravy. Appropriate to its roots, tasso is most often found in recipes of Southern or Cajun/Creole origin.

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Want more great homemade soup ideas?
Taco Soup 

Man Chili 
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5 comments:

  1. Can this be done in the Crockpot?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, I've not tried that. But I don't see why not. I would probably saute my veggies first if I were going to add them into a crock pot.

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  2. This is great with corn and garlic from a seafood boil. Put the whole corn cob in.this will add some spice depending on how spicy your boil was

    ReplyDelete
  3. If you want to kick that up a notch, add a couple drops of liquid crab boil to it. Niceness!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HaHa... I'm sure that would do it! :)

      Delete

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