Smoky, Leeky, and of Course, Corny

I love leeks. But unlike their cousins, garlic and onions, I’m never quite sure what to do with leeks. But if I’m eating out and the menu item says “…blah blah leeks…” you bet I’m ordering it! So I decided to do a little experimentation by adding leeks to the corn chowder I was making. If only I was a little more up on my French cuisine… However, experiment’s results? Win!

This chowder gets it’s smoky flavor (and name) from the bacon, sure. But the real trick to the smoky layered flavors is the blistered bell pepper. If it’s old outside (like the subzero temps we’ve had in the past few weeks) you can use the broiler on your oven to roast peppers, chiles, and the like to beautiful smoky glory. It will add an additional oomph of flavor to any dishes you would be using these babies in (especially chili, soups, and stews!).

Smoky Leek-Corn Chowder
–1 bell pepper, whole
–4 strips bacon
–1 leek stalk, sliced into small rings
–2 ears of fresh corn, niblets sliced off and cobs discarded
–1 10oz. package of frozen corn
–1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or stock
–2 cups heavy whipping cream

Set the oven to broil and place the bell pepper on a baking sheet on the top rack of the oven. Turn the pepper every 3 minutes to ensure even roasting (and not burning!). The pepper is done when it is roasted on all sides and the skin is crackled and easy to peel off. Set it aside to cool. We will not use the oven again in this recipe.

In a pot with deep sides, cook the bacon strips over medium to medium-high heat. When golden brown but not burned, set aside. Add the leeks to the bacon grease in the pot and sauté over medium heat, stirring regularly. When the leeks begin to get tender, add the fresh corn pieces, stirring together to mix. Allow this to cook for two or so minutes so the corn begins to get tender as well.

While the vegetables cook, remove the skin from the pepper. Dice the roasted pepper pieces, removing any stems or seeds as desired. [Note: If you want to add a little more “fire” to the soup, leave some of the seeds in.] Once chopped, add these pepper pieces to the pot and stir to combine before moving on to the next step.

Pour in the frozen corn, broth, and cream. Stir to combine and allow to come to a boil before reducing the temperature and simmering the soup for 40 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep cream from scalding. Serve, topped with the cooked bacon, crumbling one piece atop each bowl like bacon-y croutons. Season with fresh cracked black pepper.

Dammit Jim, I’m a cook, not a doctor…
Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6 bowls
Calories: 307 per bowl

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