Sweet Potato Corn Chowder

The first cookbook published in America was called  – take a deep breath! – American Cookery or The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry and Vegetables and The Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes, from Imperial Plumb to Plain Cake, Adapted at This Country and All Grades of Life.

OK, you can exhale now. It was written by Amelia Simmons, and the 1st edition that came out in 1796, did not contain any soup recipes. However, a chowder was not really considered a soup, but rather a stew. Nonetheless, in the 2nd edition, in 1800, she did include it, and so we now have the very first American chowder recipe:

Chouder – Take a bass weighing four pounds, boil half an hour; take six slices raw salt pork, fry them till the lard is nearly extracted, one dozen crackers soaked in cold water five minutes; put the bass into the lard, also the pieces of pork and crackers, cover close, and fry for 20 minutes; serve with potatoes, pickles, apple-sauce or mangoes; garnish with green parsley.” (whatscookingamerica.net)

But wait a minute, this is not the first! What about this little poem published in the Boston Evening Post in 1751:

First lay some Onions to keep the Pork from burning
Because in Chouder there can be not turning;
Then lay some Pork in slices very thing,
Thus you in Chouder always must begin.
Next lay some Fish cut crossways very nice
Then season well with Pepper, Salt, and Spice;
Parsley, Sweet-Marjoram, Savory, and Thyme,
Then Biscuit next which must be soak’d some Time.
Thus your Foundation laid, you will be able
To raise a Chouder, high as Tower of Babel;
For by repeating o’er the Same again,
You may make a Chouder for a thousand men.
Last a Bottle of Claret, with Water eno; to smother ’em,
You’ll have a Mess which some call Omnium gather ’em. (ibid.) 

Other than seasoning, characteristic to 18th century American cooking, the two recipes are strikingly similar and just as strikingly different from the chowder as we know it today.  Fish with pork or in pork lard?! They did have some strange ideas, didn’t they!

Actually, chowder goes back to the Latin word calderia, which originally meant a place for warming things up, and gradually changed its meaning to a big cooking pot, a cauldron.

I love Harry Potter – just had to stick this in!  Remember, they used cauldrons in the Potions class? In French, cauldron became chaudiere.  Chowder was “a pour man’s food, ” and fish peddlers in 16th – 17th century England had huge steaming chaudieres with fish stew, sold very cheap. Corrupting the French word, both they and their cauldrons were called jowters.  And according to The Oxford English Dictionary, fishing villages on both sides of the English Channel  had a large chaudiere waiting for the ships to return from the sea, and a portion of each man’s catch was contributed to it,  to be served later as part of the community’s welcoming celebration.

The first European settlers on American soil brought with them the comforting memory of this hearty soup/stew, thick with crackers or biscuits crumbled on top. Native Americans introduced them to clams, which they scathingly called “the least blessed of G-d’s creations,” and maiz, or corn.  The latter seemed like a good idea, it took hold and became popular, and corn chowder was born.

Corn Chdr 1.jpg

As a tweak on a traditional heavily potato-based recipe, I use sweet potatoes, to reduce carbs and hypoglycemic content.  I also add grated carrots, minced celery, onion, and garlic, and a whole lot of cilantro. And, or course, corn.

Corn Chdr 2

You start by boiling sweet potatoes until they are really falling apart. That helps to thicken the chowder. Meanwhile, you can grate your carrot, mince celery, onion, and garlic, and chop cilantro.

Corn Chdr 3.jpg

Fish boiled potatoes out of the pot and throw the rest of the ingredients, except cilantro, into the liquid. Mash potatoes to a creamy mass and add it to the pot. You’ll have to add water almost to two quarts, leaving room for cream.  Now you have to stir it well and bring it to boil.

Corn Chdr 4.jpg

Once it’s boiling, add soup powder and cream. As I am trying to be dairy-free, I use pareve non-dairy cream, but soy or coconut cream, as well as real dairy cream could also work. Season with salt, pepper, and cinnamon, and add cilantro, together with stems.

Corn Chdr 5.jpg

Reduce heat to the lowest setting and let it simmer, the longer, the better. I sometimes let it cook in the crock pot all day. If you cook it stove top, though, make sure to stir it from time to time, to prevent corn from sticking to the bottom.

Corn Chdr 6

It might be a “poor man’s soup,” but it’s thick, creamy, sweet and savory, and very satisfying. The hungry cat in the background is actually a dinner bell by a renown ceramic artist Tatiana Lombrozo.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium size sweet potatoes, boiled
  • 1 medium size carrot, grated
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • Large handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 heaping tablespoon soup powder
  • 1/2 cup cream of choice
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PROCEDURE

  • Peel, quarter, and boil potatoes until very soft.
  • Grate carrot, mince celery, onion, and garlic. Chop cilantro with stems.
  • Remove potatoes. Place carrot, celery, onion, and garlic into liquid in which potatoes had been cooked.
  • Mash potatoes to creamy consistency, add to pot.  Add water almost to 2 quarts. Stir and bring to boil.
  • Add soup powder and cream.  Season with cinnamon, salt and pepper. Add cilantro. Stir well, bring to boil again, reduce heat to simmer or transfer to crock pot. Simmer for at least 30 minutes stovetop, for 3 – 4 hours in a crock pot. Serve with crackers or croutons.

Enjoy!

 

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20 Comments Add yours

  1. I love the Chouder poem 🙂 Maybe one day someone will publish a cookery book written in verse?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Someone did – Ogden Nash, and his poems are collected in a little book called Food that came out in the 80s. They are very funny, but they are not recipes, sorry.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like Ogden Nash, but never heard of this book. Just remembered I was going to report on Bulgakov. I’ve read the translation and some bits from the Russian version (my Russian is rusty). I do appreciate the literary genius, but the book spooks me out. The atmosphere is somehow too gloomy and abstractly overwhelming in the scary unpredictability that I can’t really ‘like’ it. I know it probably isn’t about liking, but what I’m trying to say is: I don’t really think I understand it properly. It’s a depressive one for me, kafkaesque, upsetting even if I find it hard to pinpoint why.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ogden Nash never collected his food poems in a book; it was done much later, in the 80’s. It’s truly delightful! With regards to Bulgakov, not only have you gotten the gist of it, but also have given the most precise description I’ve ever heard from a foreigner. It’s not a matter of language, but as you said, a totally kafkaesque scary unpredictability that was the way of life for 75 years! Depressive? Upsetting? Now you know how we lived. Now you understand why this book is THE Russian novel of the 20th century. In the same way as Dostoevsky disected the heart and the soul of 19th century Russia, Bulgakov did 100 years later. You don’t have to like it, but I think the thinking people of the world – that’s you, Alex! – must understand how 250 million people lived for 75 years.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. How funny, I’ve made corn and sweet potato chowder yesterday – though quite different than yours.
    I can’t help but use the wonderful fresh corn we have now. Irresistible! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel the same way about fresh corn – that’s why I made it! I’ll go look at yours and report back to you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I tried to look for the Kefir recipe but can’t find a Search button here. Maybe I’m doing something wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am technically challenged and don’t know how to insert a search field. My bad! Here is the link https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/prostokvasha-non-dairy-clabbered-milk/
        I apologize for leading you on a wild goose chase!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you I will check it out soon. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Health Mastery Movement says:

    This looks absolutely delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am glad you like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This looks yum! I love Harry Potter too. I have to be careful when I read the books, they are addicting. I also wanted to tell you that I did your technique for herbs, and it worked! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad, but the credit is not mine, but my friend’s Linda the Sushi Lady. When she does fundraising events, she works under OU, and she is her own Mashgiach. Someone at OU instructed her to do that many years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sumith Babu says:

    Very soothing one!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am so glad to hear from you – I was concerned about your silence. I hope everything is ok with you and the family!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sumith Babu says:

        Hi Dolly thank you for that. Nice to have great friends like you. Was away on holiday. Not settled yet.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am just being a Jewish grandmother, worrying about everybody! I hope you had a great time, and I am looking forward to some fabulous recipes and food art from you!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Sumith Babu says:

        Hi Dolly, I am very glad to be a part of this amazing bloggers family. Many wonderful, loving and caring people around. Yes we had a wonderful time. Kids enjoyed a lot. Will be back with many more stories and arts. Thanks a lot!!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Sumith Babu says:

        Thank you Dolly:))

        Like

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