But in the close to two years that I’ve had a monthly virtual lunchdate with food bloggers spread out from California to Paris, the thing I’ve most adored is the friendships that have formed, firmly sealed via a shared love for cooking.
Over Let’s Lunch dates and regular Tweets, this trusty band of bloggers has gotten rather fond of one another. So when our dear Karen mentioned that she couldn’t join us for lunch in May because of a strict liquid diet due to cancer surgery, our decision was clear. If Karen had to have liquid lunches in May, then well, so would we.
What to make for lunch? After regretfully dispelling the idea of martinis — delicious, though probably not the most healthy — a filling, hearty chowder came to mind …
One of my favorite home-made chowders is an old Gourmet magazine recipe for cheddar and corn chowder that I like to pull out during cold winter months when I’m craving summer’s sweet corn and looking for a weeknight dinner that’s both easy and oomphy. In spring, this chowder feels just a smidge too rich, however. But I had an idea for how to tone it down a little.
First, I started with the bacon, chopped up into little bits…
When that was done, the bacon came out and in went the onions, some butter, cumin, and later on, chicken broth and finely diced potatoes.
Now, toward the end, you finish off the chowder by stirring in heavy cream and shredded cheddar. To cut the fat content of the soup, however, I decided to try a trick I learned from an interview I did with chef Brad Farmerie of New York City’s Double Crown restaurant for the Wall Street Journal. To spice up his mashed sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, Farmerie packs it with Japanese miso paste, saying that “the richness and umami come from miso and allow you to not add so much butter.”
So instead of adding cheddar to the mix, I gradually added little globs of miso, which did indeed lend a unique dimension to the chowder. The end product was irresistible — the combination of corn, potatoes, chicken broth and cumin spiked with earthy, creamy miso and topped with bits of crunchy bacon, was unbelievable, if I may say so myself.
I had worried that I would miss the rich cheddar taste that I love so much about this chowder but the miso more than makes up for it — and its distinct flavor is an added treat, especially if you are a fan of the salty Japanese soup.
This chowder is more than a meal on its own but it’s also delicious served with piping hot biscuits and a side salad.
This one’s for you, Karen. Get well soon, dear!
Don’t forget to check out the Let’s Lunchers’ liquid lunch offerings below! And if you’d like to join Let’s Lunch, go to Twitter and post a message with the hashtag #Letslunch — or, post a comment below.
Caitlin‘s Spring Greens Soup with Homemade Baguette at Caitlin Shetterly
Cathy‘s Nut Milk at Show Food Chef
Chris‘s Asparagus & Artichoke Bisque at Blog Well Done
Denise‘s Mango Lassi at Chez Us
Eleanor‘s Turnip, Chinese Mushroom & Pork Soup at Be a Wok Star
Ellise‘s Cucumber-Avocado Gazpacho at Cowgirl Chef
Emma‘s Ham-Hock Soup at Dreaming of Pots & Pans
Linda‘s Crack Pie-Inspired Shake at Free Range Cookies
Mai‘s Peanut Butter-Espresso Smoothie at Cooking in The Fruit Bowl
Rashda‘s Spring Pea & Mint Soup at Hot Curries & Cold Beer
Steff‘s Gazpacho at The Kitchen Trials
(Based on a recipe from Gourmet magazine)
5 bacon slices, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 cups chicken broth
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup heavy cream
10-ounce package frozen corn kernels
1 heaping tablespoon white miso
Salt, to taste
Cook bacon in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
Add onion and butter to fat in pan and cook, stirring, until onion is softened. Add cumin and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Whisk in broth and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Add potato and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 8 minutes. Stir in cream and corn and return to a simmer. Add miso, stirring until it blends in with the liquid. If you like the taste of miso, add more miso at this point. Add salt to taste.
Serve topped with bacon, with a salad and hot crusty bread.