Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tilapia Corn Chowder

I know most of us don't run to soup recipes in the hot summer months but this one is a must when the corn is sweetest and can be harvested fresh off the cob. After eyeing the towers of corn at my local produce stand for the last few weeks, I decided it was time to turn on the stove and put this on the menu.

I've been making this soup for years now and I've changed the original recipe some (like increasing the slices of bacon for instance). It is great as-is or can be easily tweaked depending on the veggies and herbs you have on hand. This time around, I had some extra mahi mahi in the freezer and so opted to venture off the recipe and combine it with tilapia. I was out of fresh thyme but I had some rosemary and it turned out beautifully as a variation. I even threw in a handful of frozen spinach for good measure and color (see - the recipe is amazingly adaptable!) I used a bag of potatoes from Trader Joes that contained Yukon, purple and red and I'm sure the soup would be wonderful with sweet potatoes too, though I've never tried it myself. 

The soup is certainly best in the summer, but you can also prepare it in the winter using frozen corn - no harm done! It is light and slightly sweet and chalk full of delicious good-ness. And for you non-seafood lovers, tilapia is a mild fish and you'd be surprised - it's not very fishy! All three kids gobbled it up which means this soup will be returning to our table again soon.  

Tilapia Corn Chowder
(adapted from Eating Well Magazine)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 slices bacon
2 stalks celery, diced
1 leek, white part only, halved lengthwise, rinsed and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 cups chicken broth
8 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
2 cups fresh corn kernels, (about 4 ears)
1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat and cook bacon until crispy, ~5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels and then crumble and set aside.

Add 1 more tablespoon oil (as needed) to the bacon drippings in the pan and then sauté celery, leek, salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables just begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add broth, potatoes and corn. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until the potatoes are just tender and the corn is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Stir in tilapia and thyme; return to a gentle simmer. Cook until the tilapia is cooked through, about 4 minutes more. Remove from the heat.

Stir in half-and-half, lemon juice and the reserved bacon. Garnish with chives, if using.
6 servings, about 1 1/4 cups each 

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posted by kelsie