I stomped up the three concrete steps and swung the screen door open to the covered stoop, stopping just shy of the threshold to kick the snow off my little boots. My sister pushes me from behind, in a hurry to escape the cold. We bust through the back door and stumble into the kitchen. The warmth of my grandparent’s house overwhelms by face and the smell of pork and sour kraut on this New Year’s Day makes my nose tingle with delight.
I shed my winter clothes and pass through the kitchen and stop at the bottom of the stairs. Aunts, uncles and a few cousins lay in various states of nap across the couches and in recliners as a football game plays out on the television. Some ‘Happy New Year’ mumbles are audible as I rush up the stairs to see my favorite cousins and their new Christmas toys.
Now that I am grown, New Year’s Day traditions have developed, and yet some have stayed the same. There are still football games. Naps on the couch. Christmas toys getting a good breaking in.
The pork no longer simmers on the stove – there is a restaurant that does a better job than I ever could. And there is soup. Not just any soup. Corn chowder with Christmas ham trimmings and bursts of corn from this fall’s harvest. Simultaneously fresh and hardy, it is a terrific way to ring in the new year.
Ham and Corn Chowder
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion (large) finely chopped
1 red bell pepper finely chopped
1 green bell pepper finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour (Gluten free option: 1 T. corn starch, 1 T. gluten free flour blend)
2 lbs potatoes pealed a diced (I use three pounds)
4 cups chicken stock (32 oz box)
4 cups water (I use six cups)
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste (about ½ t each)
11 ounce can yellow corn, drained.
¼ lb diced ham (1 ½ c.)
½ c heavy cream (1/2 &1/2)
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1-2 cups instant mashed potatoes
Paprika for garish
• In a heavy dutch oven melt the butter with the oil over medium heat.
• Add onion and both peppers. Cook about 5 minutes until onions are translucent.
• Add flour, stir occasionally and cook 2 minutes.
• Add potatoes. Turn heat up to high and add stock. Bring to a boil.
• Add bay leaf, salt and pepper. Turn down to a simmer, cover and leave it there for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
• Add corn and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
• Remove two cups of the soup and blend in food processor, then add it back into the pot.(or, use an immersion blender for 30 seconds in dutch oven.)
• Add ham and a touch of liquid smoke. Heat through about 5 minutes.
• Remove the bay leaf and stir in cream. Adjust thickness with instant mashed potatoes and seasonings to taste. Serve hot, sprinkled with paprika.