Custom Search

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Potato Corn Chowder with a dash of nostalgia

Oh, how I needed some potatoes, my comfort food of choice.

Visiting the dentist is fairly stressful in and of itself.  Plus, we have a new dentist, thanks heavens, this time with a decent office staff, but still--no dentist ever says the same thing. Today's visit was something of an emergency (more stress); the new dentist's advice had/has to be weighed with my common sense. I will spare everyone the details.

I had to park in a grocery parking lot. Time for potatoes, the ultimate comfort food. I wanted to make a soup, but am without stock of any kind. I remembered the first potato/corn chowder I ever ate: at a departmental pot luck at a small school where I used to teach (1987), my genial colleague (who I later discovered wrote me a fairly negative letter of recommendation--thanks GT!) made a delicious soup from the Vegetarian Epicure. The secret, he said, was the nutritional yeast Anna Thomas called for

I couldn't find my old copy, but I found the recipe online. As expected too goopy (flour???) with various things I didn't have.

Here's what I did: threw some frozen caramelized onions (I do this in the crock pot every few months) in the pot with 2 peeled and chopped potatoes. Put in a little of that nutritional yeast. Then covered with water. Simmered for a while. Mashed everything up when done and added salt, some milk, and a can of drained corn. Served with extra sharp cheddar. Oh, and I stirred in a bit of butter, a trick I learned from the great Marcella Hazan.

Soooo good. I hadn't made this vegetarian version in years, having gone over to Ina Garten's with bacon and chicken stock. Hers is even more goopy. I think I am going to return to the simpler vegetarian version. The nutritional yeast has a definite umami effect. We use it on popcorn (a friend calls it hippie dust). You can get it at Whole Foods. Or leave it out, of course.

It's amazing how good a stock potatoes and onions produce. This soup is so cheap to make that it will offset the cost of my dental treatment, at least if I eat it once a week for the next--oh--thirty years.

Is there anyone of a certain age who doesn't have this cookbook somewhere? A mere glance at the cover triggers a wave of nostalgia. Do you still cook anything from it? 


The Frugal Shrink said...

Potatoes are such a wonderful comfort food. Definitely one of my top choices as well!

Gam Kau said...

Sorry to hear your dental saga continues…hope the potatoes helped.
As with most healthcare, there always seems to be conflicting advice leaving the patient confused and stressed.
I went through a long ordeal with implants for my elderly mother and have had my share of replaced fillings leading to crowns leading to root canals…leading to failed root canals. Well, you know.

dotsybabe said...

I am a big chowder fan but dislike the like floury kid of chowder. "Real" New England" clam chowder (like my family make) is made with clam juice as stock (plus butter) and no flour. My second favorite chowder is corn-potato chowder, and this is a quick and easy recipe. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Sounds delicious! I use yeast (or Marmite) in the same way, added to mac-and-cheese, spaghetti sauce, etc. Hope your dental woes are resolved soon!

Shelley said...

Funny about the 'hippie dust'. My cousin's partner in Nice has this stuff on her dining table and sprinkles it on everything. (When in Nice...). Years ago in redneck Oklahoma I associated vegetarianism with hippie-thinking. I gave this cookbook as a wedding gift to my dear hippie-ish girlfriend. Her only comment was 'I'm not vegetarian!' No idea if she kept it and I've never owned it. My mom's version of comfort food was to boil potatoes; when boiled, replace the water with milk and heat slowly, adding enough butter/margerine to make it a golden colour. Salt to taste and decorate the top of the soup with a sprinkle of parsley and paprika before serving. Always comforted me...

Duchesse said...

Oh, Veg Ep! I still make the Pizza Rustica. I would ask someone saying "I'm not vegetarian" if they do indeed •eat• any vegetables. Knowing what to do with vegetables is simply part of being a good cook!

A vegetable stock is easy to make; we also keep some good canned stock on hand for emergencies. (Le Duc draws the line at bouillon cubes.)

Though it is costly, I remain ever grateful for modern dentistry. We have a specific savings plan for dental care, including emergencies.

tess said...

I have that cookbook, and have made quiche. Title is a bit misleading as many recipes highlight cheese and butter, mmm, (rather than greens).

Frugal Scholar said...

@FS--Try the soup. I would bet you can find that vintage-ish cookbook for a quarter somewhere.
@GK--And continues...and continues.
@dotsy--Glad you like it!
@Exacting--Marmite is hard to find here, unfortunately. I will try it as a stock base next time someone brings me some from a trip.
@Shelley--I guess I was--and remain--kind of a hippie thinker. At least I hope so (the good parts of hippie thinking, I mean). The book itself is very dated--too much butter and cream.
@Duchesse-That pizza rustica has been on my to-do list for a zillion years. It's so much work--and I hate making crusts. Yeah-I'm grateful for modern dentistry--but I seem to have fallen into an abyss of pain and multiple procedures with multiple dentists--none of which/whom solve the problem. Very dispiriting.

@tess--Are you thinking of the Greens Cookbook? Now that is a masterpiece.