Corn Chowder, New Mexico Style
Have you ever been to New Mexico? If you haven’t, you must go. Really, schedule a trip to get there. Do it now. You must see this place before you die. It is one of the most enchanting places on earth. I used to live there.
When I first moved to New Mexico from the midwest, it was a complete culture shock. To me, it looked like I had gone from green to brown. I was young (fresh out of college!) and I was alone for the first time in my life. I was scared. I didn’t know anybody there. I had moved from my green, fertile homeland where I had so many family and friends to a barren land where I knew nobody.
All the houses in New Mexico are brown. The ground is brown. There are very few trees. Lots of sharp pokey cactus. Instead of lawns, they have rock “gardens” with yuccas. They have square houses with flat roofs. And there are roadrunners and black widow spiders and lots of tumbleweeds. I had one growing in my back yard once and I didn’t know it was a tumbleweed till it broke off and started tumbling about my yard. It made me laugh.
After I moved there, I discovered there are shades of brown. And most of them are really shades of pink or orange. They change color throughout the day. The mountains would turn watermelon pink at sunset. The sky was the most brilliant blue you have ever seen … and there were layers of clouds. Wispy clouds high up in the sky, painting the sky with their beautiful patterns. Lower down clouds. Big angry thunderclouds that in late summer would gather in the late afternoon, storm down from the mountains, dump on the city and be gone within an hour, leaving us in a rush of raging water.
I quickly learned the beauty of the colors of New Mexico. I fell in love with the southwestern art. I learned to drink wine at the wine festivals there. But more than that, I fell in love with the food. There is one signature ingredient that you will see in EVERY restaurant in New Mexico (seriously! it’s even at McDonald’s!)–Hatch Green Chile. I really recommend using authentic Hatch Green Chile in this recipe. You can buy it freshly roasted — or pre-roasted, chopped and frozen in New Mexico. Outside of New Mexico, about the best you will get is maybe canned green chile and if that is all you have, use it. It will not give the same flavor or spiciness to this soup that it really should have, but it will at least impart a bit of the flavor of a green chile.
In New Mexico in the fall, the smell of roasting green chiles is everywhere as they roast the chiles right outside the grocery store. You go and buy a “bag” of chiles (if I recall right, a bag was 38 lbs.) and they roast them for you on the spot while you stand there and smell the intoxicating scent of roasting chiles. Then you take them home, peel off the outside skin, and freeze them for your winter’s supply. I did that many years. Now, when I go to New Mexico, I take along an extra cooler, just for chiles. I buy as many frozen chiles as will fit in the cooler and bring them home. I am very reluctant to share them because I do not want to be without my precious chiles.
If you take my advice and go to New Mexico, bring an extra cooler and pack in as many frozen green chiles as you can to bring home with you. You will be happy that you did. Then you can make delicious dishes like this.
Corn Chowder, New Mexico Style
- 2 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cobs of corn,
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 c. frozen Hatch green chile + 1/4 c. juices from the chile (or 2 – 4-oz. cans)
- 2 c. chicken broth
- 2 medium potatoes, cooked and roughly mashed with a fork
- 1 1/2 c. FAT FREE half and half
- 1 t. adobo seasoning
- 1/2 t. salt (or more to taste)
- 1/4 c. light sour cream
- In a large saucepan, fry the bacon over medium-high heat till it’s crispy.
- Add the onion and garlic and sautee until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Add the corn and sautee briefly, about 1 minute.
- Now if you are using frozen green chile, when you thaw it, some of the juices will collect on the top. This is the best juice for soup. Toss a bunch into the soup along with the chile. (If you MUST use canned green chile, don’t drain it! Toss in everything from the can, juices and all.)
- Add the chicken broth and potatoes and let cook till everything is hot and bubbly. If you want the soup a little thicker, add more mashed potatoes and let it cook a little longer.
- When you are almost ready to serve the soup, add the half and half and the seasonings, then stir in the sour cream until melted and smooth (that is, no lumps from the sour cream are left).
- Enjoy the hot, creamy corn and bacon green chile goodness.
This recipe was shared at Recipe of the Week-Secret Ingredient: Corn