Saturday, April 2, 2016

Chicken and Asparagus Chowder


 We had our first real spring storms of the season the other day. It was the perfect kind. Warm enough enough to keep the windows open so we could hear and smell the rain, yet cool enough that a nice spring soup on the stove seemed appropriate. It was the kind of cleansing rain that guarantees there to be at least 4 inches of growth in the perennial flowers by morning. 

We were in Ohio for several days during spring break for a get away and family Easter gatherings. We spend a lot of time with both Jeremy and my families, celebrated my niece's first birthday and came home with way more Easter chocolate than we needed to. I do always look forward to the first meal that I cook in my own kitchen after a trip. Since we usually empty out our fridge as much as possible before a trip, it takes me a day or two to get stocked up again so I can really cook. 

A few years ago, I wrote about my spring craving for asparagus that developed when we lived in Germany. The Germans are serious about their spargel and when it is harvest time, restaurants create entire asparagus menus to supplement their normal menu. My mouth still waters for German spargel suppe.

That's why it wouldn't be spring without an asparagus dish! When I happened across this recipe during a search for spring recipes, I was pretty excited. Bring on the spargel! 

Since this recipe calls for chicken and chicken broth, I started from scratch so I could get both. I used a roaster chicken, covered it with water with a generous amount of salt, and brought it to a boil until the chicken was cooked. You only need 2 cups of chicken for this soup so you actually end up with leftover chicken AND broth! Of course if this seems like too much, you can buy store bought chicken broth and 2 cups of whatever chicken works for you.  

Scroll all the way down for the recipe in a nice, neat package.


 After the chicken is done, set it aside to cool before picking it apart. Meanwhile, in a dutch oven (don't all good recipes start in a dutch oven?) put in 8 slices of chopped up bacon. I use my kitchen shears for chopping bacon. It makes it so easy. Cook the bacon until it's cooked, but not crispy.


Finely chop an onion and 3 cloves garlic, and dice 5 medium potatoes.


 When the bacon is done, remove it with a slotted spoon and put it on a paper towel. Try not to eat all the bacon while you finish putting this all together.


To the bacon drippings, add 4 tablespoons of butter. That's right. This is about to get tasty, people.


Drop in the onions, and cook them low and slow until they are soft, about 8 minutes.


 Add in the garlic and cook for about one more minute.


Stir in the potatoes, making sure to coat them with the yummy butter liquid. Cook them for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.


Stir in 2/3 cup flour and cook for a minute or two until it starts to brown.


Stir in 6 cups chicken broth, 2 cups milk, and 1 can drained corn. 




 



 Next, add in the spices. 2 teaspoons thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.


 

 And stir it up. Yummy, yummy broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Next, trim 1-2 pounds of asparagus (depending on your taste), and cut it into bite sized pieces.


Chop an 8 ounce bottle of roasted red bell peppers.


And stir it all in to the yummy soup base. Simmer for another 10 minutes.


 Finally, stir in 2 cups shredded (or chopped) chicken.


Top it with the bacon and 1/4 cup (give or take) chopped fresh parsley.


Stir in all together and you have an amazing spring soup with a depth of flavor and texture. This is a great recipe for your spring menu!


My advice is to save it for a rainy day!


Chicken and Asparagus Chowder:

Ingredients: 
8 slices bacon, diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 T. butter
5 Medium Idaho potatoes, diced (or whatever potato you like to cook with)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk (I used skim, but use whole if you want a richer flavor)
1 can corn, drained
2 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1-2 pounds asparagus, trimmed, washed, and cut into bite sized pieces
2 cups cooked chicken (shredded or diced)
8 ounce jar roasted red bell peppers,  drained and chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley (plus a little extra for garnish)

Instructions:
1.) Cook the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until cooked through (but not crispy). Remove the bacon to a paper towel, but leave bacon grease in the Dutch oven.
2.) Add butter to the bacon grease until melted, then add onions and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
3.) Stir in the potatoes, and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
4.) Mix in the flour, and cook until flour begins to brown, about 1 minute.
5.) Add chicken broth, milk, corn, thyme, salt, and pepper, and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
 6.) Add the asparagus and roasted peppers and simmer for another 10 minutes.
7.) Finally, stir in the chicken, bacon, and parsley and heat through.

Serving Suggestions: Warm rolls and a spring salad


This recipe was adapted from Daring Gourmet.