Eating better food for less and other tales from a no-moneymoon

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Summer Soup Break

A few summers ago to be "healthier," I tried to cut corn out of my summer cooking repertoire. What a mistake. Fresh sweet corn offers a special taste of summer goodness that it turns out is actually pretty good for you.

So with a leftover cob and another whole one in the fridge, I thought I'd try my hand at a little chicken and corn soup. Also leftover? Two strips of bacon whose compatriots made my quiche of last week so tasty and the sole survivor of a 3-breast chicken package.

Put it all together and you have a wonderfully rich summer-time lunch. I usually lean on lighter cuisine when the weather is so steamy, but sometimes having something that's not too heavy but still hearty is a nice change of pace.

Corn and Chicken Soup

2 strips smoked bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, diced
2 small potatoes, diced
1 corn cob (leftover, no kernels)
1 whole corn cob
2 cups 1 % milk
1 chicken breast
5-6 leaves basil

In a larger sauce pan or dutch oven, over high heat start to cook bacon pieces. When they begin to crisp up, add the diced onion and potato. Cook, stirring, until onions are translucent and potatoes are slightly tender. The potato is adding some starchy heft to the broth. You could skip it, but it makes it a little heartier and adds texture.

Meanwhile, cut the chicken breast into three sections (mine was huge.) Place it on top of the onion/bacon mixture and add the milk to cover. Bring to a simmer then lower the heat to keep it just steaming and poach the chicken until cooked the whole way through. (I pulled it out to check.) Mine took about 15 minutes, but it really depends on the size of the breast, so best to check.

Remove the chicken breasts and set aside. Cut the kernels off the whole corn cob. I've seen "easy" ways to do this that involve multiple bowls, etc. Um, no. Just go slow and cut from midway on the cob, downward, on a cutting board with a sharp knife. Then flip the cob upside down and repeat. If you don't get the kernels cut close to the cob, don't worry, you'll get all that goodness out when you...

Add the de-kerneled cobs to the milk-onion-bacon mixture and keep the mixture at a simmer. While the cobs are getting nice and warm, shred the chicken into bite size pieces. Remove the cobs with tongs and hold up on a cutting board. Scrape the cob with a knife to get out all the remnant corn bits and return the bits and their liquid to the pot. Add the chicken and uncooked reserve kernels into the pot. Salt to taste. Simmer 5 minutes. Stir in some basil leaves and serve.

Leftover bits and pieces come together for big flavor
A hearty summer soup to break up the lighter fare and fuels some summertime adventures
Corn's sweet summer flavor pops in this soup

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