Friday, January 22, 2010

Chicken and Butternut Squash Chowder

This recipe is an oldie but goodie around here. I've been making it since Fall of 2003 when it was first published in Bon Appetit. It is perfect for a cold fall or winter day. The flavors of the squash, the bacon, the cilantro all combine to make a bowl of deliciousness.

I remember the first time I made this chowder. I was so excited to make it because it sounded tasty so I picked up all the ingredients and got started. Peeling the butternut squash was (and is) a pain. I didn't let it beat me and I started assembling the chowder in my pot. Only at the time the largest pot I had was not big enough! I had to stop in the middle of making the chowder and run to Target for a bigger pot! These days I have several large pots, including the stock pot I had to buy on that first chowder making day. So if you give it a try (and you should!) make sure you have a large pot. It makes a lot but it reheats really well.

Yield: Makes 10 servings
10 bacon slices, chopped

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
3 medium onions, chopped
2 cups chopped red bell peppers (about 2 large)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
9 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled seeded butternut squash (cut from one 1 3/4-pound squash)
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 16-ounce bags frozen corn kernels
1 cup whipping cream
4 cups diced skinned roast chicken
2 cups chopped green onions
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Cook bacon in large pot over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.

Pour off all but 1/4 cup drippings from pot. Add butter to pot; melt over medium-high heat. Add onions and 1 cup bell peppers. Sauté until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add flour; stir 2 minutes. Mix in broth, then squash, potatoes, and thyme; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered until squash and potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Add corn, cream, and 1 cup bell peppers. Simmer until corn is tender, about 10 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Add chicken, 1 cup green onions, and 1/2 cup cilantro; simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle chowder into bowls; sprinkle with remaining 1 cup green onions and 2 tablespoons cilantro and bacon.

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