Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bacon, Corn, and Chili Soup

I am not big on planning my meals ahead.  I go to the farmers market and buy what looks good, and generally figure out day by day what I'm going to cook.  I've written about this before, but one of the tricks to making this work is knowing good substitutions.  This week I had corn from the farmers market we had not managed to eat.  Soup sounded good (apologies to my friends in Phoenix, but "summer soup" is not an oxymoron in Coronado). I almost always have bacon in the freezer (you can just cut pieces off the frozen chunk, start cooking it slowly to thaw), and an onion,  But I did not have any milk or jalapeno peppers to make the corn soup I wanted. I did have coconut milk, and chipotle chili flakes. So I thinned the coconut milk with water (its very rich, more so than even half and half), used the chili flakes, and it came out very nice. 

There is a level of confidence and experience needed to pull off substitutions.  Google is also a good help for some things.  I find that onions, shallots, and leeks are pretty interchangeable, buttermilk can be faked with yogurt or milk with lemon juice or vinegar added.  Red peppers can substitute for tomatoes (for some dishes, its best to roast the peppers first).  I try to think through -- what will the texture / moisture or fat level / heat level / sweetness / color be like?  How different will the flavor be, and will the different flavor be different good or different in a bad way? Then just taste as you go along.  And remember that salt, acid (like lemon juice) and hot sauce can fix a lot of things that aren't quite right.

And now I have half a can of coconut milk to use up.  I have rum, but not any pineapple juice...

Bacon, Corn, and Chili Soup 

Serves 2 as main or 4 as appetizer

1 teaspoon olive oil
4 slices (about 4 oz) bacon, cut in ½ inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 jalapeno chilies, minced or ¼ - ½ teaspoon chipotle chili flakes
Salt – about a ½ teaspoon or so to start
4 ears of corn, cut from the cob (or 4 cups of thawed, frozen corn)
1 cup of water
1 cup coconut milk
Black pepper, 3 or 4 good grinds
Hot sauce
Avocado or sour cream or yogurt to garnish, maybe a squeeze of lime
Chives or cilantro to garnish

In medium pot, cook the bacon in olive oil until crisp.  Remove bacon (but not the grease) from pan.  Add onions, garlic, and chilies to pan along with some salt.  Sauté until soft, 5 to 10 minutes.   Add corn from 3 of the ears along with the water, and cook for 5 minutes at a gentle boil.   Remove from heat, add milk, and blend with an immersion blender (or food processor if you like to do dishes).   Just blend a bit, still want some texture.

Add remaining corn and pepper.  Taste… add more salt and/or hot sauce as needed.  Heat back up to steaming (don’t boil) and serve with garnishes and reserved bacon.

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