this recipe starts with a story. there once was a man who was regularly called away from where he lived to distant cities, such as nagoya, in order to participate in professional development. as a result, he was required to commute to these far-away cities by a variety of methods of public transit. the most common of these was the shinkansen, or bullet train. and while shinkansen are comfy and easily adapted to, like any train, the food which is available is sub-par at best. somehow, stale boxed lunches and vending machine food just didn’t do it for him.
so he resolved to beat the system, and beat the system he did. the day before his most recent trip to nagoya, he purchased himself a 1.1 liter thermos and filled it with the best soup he could think of at the time. as they say, necessity is the mother of invention.
this hearty, awesomely creamy soup is perfect for rainy days, winter months, camping, or even long train commutes. more importantly, it is scarce in ingredients, relatively easy to make, and cheaper than any food this tasty should be.
- bacon or sliced ham
- 3 or 4 medium-sized new potatoes
- one leek
- half an onion
- 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
- chicken stock
- heavy whipping cream
- black pepper
- chop the bacon roughly. mince the garlic and the onion, and add all three to a hot slightly oiled frying pan. cook on high heat until the onions are translucent and the bacon is slightly browned. be careful not to burn the garlic, otherwise your soup will be bitter.
- once finished, put the sautee into a pot. wash your potatoes well. you may skin them if you like, but i find that the skins add a nice earthy flavor to it. plus, they are basically the only part of potatoes that have any nutrition. so you might as well leave them on. cut the potatoes into bite-sized piece. if you are planning to put this soup in a thermos, make sure that the potato pieces are small enough that they can exit the thermos neck. i know it sounds a little obvious, but trust me, i’ve been there.
- cut the leek into relatively thick slices. using a diagonal angle will allow for bigger, more tangible pieces than would normally be capable with a simple 90 degree cut.
- add all the ingredients to the pot, cover with chicken stock, and bring to a strong boil over high heat. once it starts to boil, cover, reduce the heat as low as possible while still retaining a slight simmer, and cook for 20 or so minutes (or until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork).
- while your soup is cooking, grab your heavy cream and pour it into a bowl. sift or spoon a little bit of flour at a time into the cream. increments are super important here. if you add too much flour too quickly, it will clump and insulate itself, creating super unappetizing pockets of soggy flour in your soup. that is not what we are going for. once the cream has been successfully mixed with about 3 or 4 spoons of flour, set it aside. (hint: if you are having trouble with your roux clumping, try adding a small ladleful of the stock which is currently simmering alongside you. don’t add too much, just enough to change the temperature.)
- when your soup is finished simmering, slowly add the roux a ladleful at a time and mix. once it is all mixed in, add black pepper, copious dill, and thyme. stir it while cooking for another five minutes or so until it reaches desired thickness. because this is a thick soup, make not to leave it alone on the burner regardless of how low the heat it. burned milk on the bottom of your soup tends to detract from the tastiness factor. just saying.
- serve it up with a little bit of toasted italian or french bread.
goes excellent with:
beer. it is a tradition in some of the usa’s most wintery lands to have beer with dairy-based foods. and in the stranger wintery lands, like wisconsin, they even mix beer into their dairy-based foods. hence beer and cheese soup. not my favorite, but hey, to each their own.
coffee. this soup is extremely well-suited to pairing with a small, basic salad and an excellent toasted sandwich. any everybody knows that if you are having a soup, a sandwich, and a salad at lunch time, there should probably be some coffee lurking around in the background somewhere. besides, who doesn’t like coffee. if you don’t, you should.
italian beef. speaking of sandwiches, this soup goes awesome with other thyme seasoned foods. my version of italian beef is one such sandwich. the bright, fruitiness of red and yellow peppers is also an excellent contrast to the creaminess of the chowder.