Now that cold weather season is upon us let’s talk about chowders, soups, and stews!

Soup has become a catchall term for a hot liquid served as or with the main meal. It’s a combination of vegetables, meats, or fish cooked in liquid just long enough to be soft without losing their texture.

Stew is prepared by “stewing,” meaning the food is barely covered by liquid and cooked on low heat for a long time in a Dutch oven or other covered pot. For the base, meats, fish, and vegetables are used. The liquid can be broth, water, milk, or a combination of milk and cream thickened with a roux or additional cream. Although we rarely think of it as such, chili is actually a stew.

Bisques and chowders are thickened soups. Bisque is usually smooth.  Chowder is chunky and made with cream and butter. The word chowder comes from the French term for the soup cauldron used by fishermen. For either, usually, seafood or vegetables is used as the main ingredient. I was taught that a chowder has potato, and a milk-based stew doesn’t. This guideline seems to be regional and only seems to pertain when seafood is used. Words matter, right? What’s the bottom line if you want to know if there are potatoes involved? You have to ask the chef.

Gramma Ella’s corn chowder used cans of creamed corn. It’s especially delicious with a side of fresh crusty bread!

Hearty Corn Chowder (Approx. 8 servings)

In a stovetop pot or Dutch oven, saute 1 large, diced onion, and ½ cup diced bacon in ½ c butter until tender. Add 1 cup of vegetable or chicken broth, 2 cans of cream style corn, and 4 medium, cubed potatoes. Simmer for 20 mins until potatoes are tender. Stir in 1 cup of milk and 2 cups of cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat thoroughly for another 5-10 min, stirring occasionally. It tastes even better when made a day ahead! Reheat gently.

For a less starchy, less sweet chowder, substitute 12 oz of frozen whole kernel corn for the creamed corn.

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