Chanterelle Chowder

Chanterelle ChowderWhen I saw this recipe on Not Without Salt, I may have exclaimed aloud. I love mushrooms so much, but especially chanterelles. And I love corn chowder. This looked mesmerizingly delicious, and it did not disappoint. It’s long gone now, but I think it will be back in the rotation very soon.

Chanterelle ChowderI love chanterelles so much and will gladly order anything on the menu that features them. But I didn’t realize until I was at the store buying ingredients for this soup that I have never bought chanterelles before, ever. They are a delicacy, to be sure, and the only place I know I can get them is at Whole Foods, where there are not always price tags. I am too afraid of sticker shock to buy anything there that doesn’t have a price clearly marked (hellloooo, $6 head of cauliflower. True story). I asked someone who was stocking the produce section if he knew the price, and he answered, “Couldn’t tell ya.” But I bought them anyway. For the amount called for in this recipe, it was about $7. Not a disaster. Definitely not something to buy every day, but well worth a splurge (like good cheese, mmm). I am sure it helped that I had just gotten over my cold, and I was really excited about tasting good food again. But it made me a little sad that I’d never bought chanterelles before. I am a frugal girl through and through, and I love nothing more than a good bargain. I mostly just don’t buy things unless they are on sale, and this works very well for me. I come home with my arms full of thrift store treasures, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything at all. But I think it’s worth reminding myself every now again to get the things I love. Olives and stinky cheese and fancy salami and chanterelles too. Am I the only one who does this? Please regale me with stories of foods you love but rarely buy. I will definitely tell you to go out and buy them! Maybe not a 50-pound wheel of Parmesan. But surely a half-pound won’t hurt your wallet too much. Anyway! Chanterelles. I love them.

Chanterelle ChowderAren’t they beautiful? They are so tender and succulent, so earthy and full of flavor.

Chanterelle ChowderThe other truly decadent thing about this soup is…bacon. I know I am really late to this party, but it is still worth saying: bacon is delicious. I never really liked the kind that comes in packages, and I still don’t. It’s too salty for me. Even after my long years of vegetarianism, it wasn’t bacon that brought me back to the dark side–it was chicken! But I have really come to love this thick-cut butcher’s bacon, or, as I call it, Steve bacon. My friend Steve is the chef de cuisine of a Michelin-starred restaurant, but he’s so humble that you’d never ever know it. He has made me so many incredible meals in our ten years of friendship, and he’s the one that turned me on to to bacon: delicious, thick and decadent bacon. Mmmmm. I actually went up to the butcher counter and said, “Can I have four slices of really fat bacon?” Words I never thought I’d say. Words I’d happily say every week if it weren’t for that whole healthy eating thing. They mysteriously only gave me three slices, but that was plenty.

Chanterelle ChowderOther glorious components: dill, potatoes, corn, thyme, white wine. Mmmm. Make this today. Buy yourself chanterelles. You deserve them.

Chanterelle Chowder
Ever so slightly adapted from Not Without Salt

Serves 4

4 strips bacon, thinly sliced (I only used three)
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 ā€“ 2 1/2 cups (6 ounces) roughly chopped chanterelles
1/2 cup (4 ounces) wheat beer or white wine
2 1/2 cups (1 pound 4 ounces) chicken or vegetable stock (I used water because I’m a stock hater)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) cubed (1ā€ inch) yellow potatoes (2 small/medium)
1 cup corn kernels (6 ounces) (fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup (6 ounces) cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

-Cook the bacon in a large dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat until the fat renders and it just starts to crisp, 5-7 minutes.
-Add the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt then saute for an additional 7 minutes until the onions are translucent.
-Turn the heat to medium-high then add the thyme and chanterelles. Saute until caramelized in parts, 3-5 minutes. Deglaze with the beer (or wine), scraping up the browned bits off the bottom.
-Add the stock and potatoes, bring to a simmer then cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
-Add the corn and cream and simmer just until the corn is cooked through.
-Stir in dill, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper. Finish with lemon juice then taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

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