Autumn came early for me via a trip to Western Australia, where winter was reluctant to leave. Unseasonally long, the locals were shook, I still managed to get sunburned in the warm spells in between winters death rattle. Even before then I was craving Autumn, my senses needing the seasons to change when it was 30 deg C + in London in mid September. So, I made chicken, corn and chipotle chowder the second things started to get cooler.
Trinities of ingredients are recurring themes in my cooking. I like simple food with core ingredients tweaked with store cupboard favourites. Soffrito is a base for many things (garlic, chilli, onions); cheese tomato & onion are always glorious (with a splash of worcester sauce and some salt, a little chilli); pumpkin, chickpea and spinach (whatever way you like, wonderful in a curry); bacon, lettuce and tomato (just so!); chicken, mayonnaise and bread (a little tarragon and lots of butter). Three ingredients is enough for all of them to sing and dance and blend.
Chicken, corn and chipotle means Autumn is near or here. The three together in a chowder make a perfect and substantial Autumn meal. Corn is still in season, chipotle supplies a low autumnal rumble and some much needed smokey heat and chicken gives it body and thickness. Homemade chicken broth makes it sing, and promises soft days ahead. A layer of cream on top comforts us all. Soft days, and cold nights, and lots of autumn leaves to crunch home through.
Chipotle is a cupboard essential for me. Dormant until woken up by a bath in hot water, or in the case hot coffee. Some gorgeous filter coffee that I had leftover, and so I thought, well putting the chipotle in there sounds like quite the plan! A terrific plan it turned out, the coffee rendered the smoke a layer of smokiness and depth, a perfect partner to the chipotle, and a counter to the creaminess.
Serves approx 3-4 (or you and lots of leftovers, right?!)
- 4 slices smoked streaky bacon, rind removed and chopped into narrow slices
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 450g skinless boneless chicken thigh
- 2 x corn on the cob, corn kernels removed with a knife (approx 300g frozen corn)
- 1 dried chipotle chilli
- 200ml warm fresh brewed coffee
- 500ml chicken stock
- 200ml cream (single / heavy)
- two handfuls of kale, torn from the stem
Put the chipotle in the coffee and leave to the side for 20 minutes. Remove and chop finely, save the coffee for the soup.
Fry the bacon in its own fat over a medium heat in a pot that is large enough to accommodate the soup. When the bacon is starting to brown, add the chicken, and fry stirring as you do, until the chicken is white all round. Add the garlic and the chipotle and stir through for about a minute.
Add the chicken stock, corn and the coffee and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow to cook for 30 minutes.
Add the cream and kale and allow it to cook gently for a few minutes over the low heat until the kale is wilted (don't bring it to the boil). Check for seasoning, and add salt and pepper if needed.