The holidays are filled with family food traditions but I wonder how many include Corn Chowder? I should probably call it Christmas Tree Corn Chowder as my mom always made it the day of the family “hunt” for the perfect Christmas tree.
Early that morning she would peel the potatoes and dice all the vegetables. Then she would make the perfect roux and add the milk, chicken stock, prepped veggies and finally, the hero of the dish…the corn. Mom would let it simmer while the house became ensconced in its wonderful aroma. Finally, she would turn off the stove and announce that it was time to begin our adventurous tree excursion.
Mom would grab her faux fur coat and Dad would seize the scratchy green WWII Army blanket to protect the paint on the Buick LeSabre. And of course, we never left the house without lengths of heavy rope to tie the tree down. After numerous stops looking for the ideal tree, we always ended up at the same place … a local car dealership. Amidst the coupes, sedans, and station wagons, were a collection of cut Christmas trees in all sizes and varieties. I remember the bright lights hanging like beacons from wires and blowing in the winter breeze as well as the holiday music playing from loud speakers on wooden poles. Odd as it was, it was the perfect place to find our family holiday tree...and we always did. Dad had to pay for the tree inside the dealership where they would play “Firestone Holiday” records, and hand out mini scale new model cars for the youngsters, or for dads to dream about.
Once we arrived home, Mom would warm the chowder while Dad struggled with the “new and improved” stand trying to find a straight position for our tree. With the perfect find from our adventure standing tall and the soup steaming hot, we would all talk about another Christmas tradition accomplished with great success and joy. To this day I keep the tradition alive, making Corn Chowder for the same heartfelt occasion. I highly recommend you add it to your family tree adventure this year.
Holiday Corn Chowder
14 cups of chicken stock
1 lb. fresh carrots, peeled and sliced
5 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced
1 yellow onion, diced fine
5 large ribs of celery, (add comma) diced
1 lb. bag frozen peas
2, 1 lb. bags frozen whole kernel corn
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
Simmer potatoes, carrots, onions and celery in the chicken stock until potatoes are soft then add the peas and corn.
To make the roux:
In a saucepan, melt the butter, stir in the flour and cook over medium heat until bubbly and starting to take color. Slowly whisk in the two cups of milk, stirring until thickened. Gradually stir the chicken broth and into the roux. If a bit thick you can add a more milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with warm, crusty bread. It’s great for dipping into the chowder.