Soup Gang

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Tonight was the second meeting of Soup Gang, a tradition that was brought to Bozeman by some friends who spend some time together in Tahoe, CA as ski instructors. The idea is that the host provides the soup, and guests bring sides like salad, bread, and, of course, beer & wine. It was our turn to host, and I made corn chowder, which was so full in my 8 qt. dutch oven that I had to split it into two pots, but we ended up with only enough leftovers for 2 lunches for tomorrow. Perfect amount, but holy cow, do we inhale soup!

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Our cat, Shyguy, anxiously waiting for our guests to arrive.

Here is a basic recipe for my corn chowder, inspired by the recipe from the retirement home I used to work at, where the residents ate better than I did at home!

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 lb bacon ends and pieces
  • 2 qt. chicken, ham, or veggie stock
  • 16 oz frozen corn
  • 2 russet potatoes, 1/2 inch cubes (peeled or not)
  • 1 Tbsp ea thyme, parsley, coriander
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 can heavy coconut milk (not light!)
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, render the bacon. Remove and drain the bacon, reserving 2-3 Tbsp of bacon fat. Sweat the first 4 ingredients in the bacon fat, cooking until translucent and starting to soften. Add spices and herbs, stock, corn and potatoes, and boil until potatoes are just tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add half-and-half, coconut milk and maple syrup. Make a slurry with cornstarch and cold water and stir into the soup, and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes until thickened. Season to taste. Yummmmm!

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