My friend Megan makes Mimi’s Cafe Corn Chowder as one of her go-to comfort soups for a cold day. It’s absolutely delicious. We were having a bit of a cold spell and my kids were sick so I knew it was time for some comfort soup. I came up with my own version of Corn Chowder that is slightly different than the Mimi’s Cafe recipe. I use chicken stock instead of water to add another level of flavor. I omitted the celery as a personal preference. I altered the recipe to replace the can creamed corn because that is never something I have on hand and used a mixture of heavy cream and milk rather than half and half (see the cooking lesson below for information for milk, heavy cream, and half and half substitutions and comparisons). Great soup for a cold day and perfect for a cold Fall or Winter day!
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 small white onion, chopped
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups corn kernels
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper*
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. The entire soup will be made in this pot so make sure it is big enough.
2. Add in the onions and sautee for about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the flour until a paste forms. Some of the onions will mix into the paste and that is fine. You just don’t want any visible, stray white flour.
4. Whisk in the chicken stock until smooth and bring to a boil. Add in the potatoes, corn, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes (cooking time will depend on how large you cut your potatoes).
5. When the potatoes are tender, add in the milk and cream and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt and white pepper as desired.
*white pepper is used in this recipe so that the black flakes are not visible for a more appealing dish. However, if you don’t have white pepper you could always use black pepper, you’ll just have a speckled soup.
Chowders are basically just creamy soups with chunks of vegetables, sometimes meat, and often seafood. When a soup calls for heavy cream it will be rich, creamy, and decadent, but high in calories and fat. A way to reduce calories and fat in a cream-based soup is to substitute half-and-half or milk.
Half-and-Half is literally half cream, half milk. Using half & half in place of cream will lighten the texture and change the flavor, but it is an option that I use frequently. Shoot, I love cream and I’ll tell you the above recipe is better with straight cream, BUT my thighs really love cream too so I try and minimize it. To substitute, simple use half heavy cream, and half milk in the amounts the recipe calls for.
Using milk in place of cream is even more drastic. It will work, but your soup won’t be anywhere near rich, creamy or decadent. But, hey, if you are on a diet then it will work. In fact, it might even still taste good. It just isn’t the same.
What if you don’t have heavy cream on hand? The standard substitute for heavy cream is 3/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup melted butter, thoroughly mixed.
What is the difference between heavy cream and whipping cream? The simple answer is that they have different fat contents. Heavy cream has a 36%+ fat content. Whipping cream ranges from 30-36%. For the vast majority of purposes (especially in home cooking) it can be used interchangeably.
Now for some disclaimers: These kind of substitutes should not be made in candy making, baking, or confections without thorough skill and knowledge in those areas. Candy making is very chemistry oriented and it is hard to make substitutions. Baking is also chemistry oriented and substitutions may or may not greatly alter your outcome. When making homemade whipped cream, you cannot use a substitution. Milk will not whip into cream without being heavily doctored.