Blast your chowder with flavor using bacon
Potato, Leek and Chard Chowder is a good example of how to strategically use small amounts of high-fat ingredients. Illustrates FOOD-NOURISH (category d), by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, special to The Washington Post. Moved Monday, Oct. 22, 2012. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Katherine Frey.)
Chowder with a punch
This chowder is a perfect example of how to strategically use small amounts of high-fat ingredients. Its few ounces of smoky bacon provide a big flavor boost. To keep things lean and clean, drain off the rendered bacon fat.
Adding chard to what is basically a healthful version of potato-leek soup lends a slightly bitter flavor and a nice punch of green.
The chowder can be made a day in advance. If it seems too thick when you reheat it, stir in water or broth.
Potato, Leek and Chard Chowder
4 ounces smoked bacon, cut into 1∕4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds leeks (white and light-green parts), cut in half lengthwise, each half thinly sliced and rinsed well (about 41∕2 cups)
freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds baking potatoes, such as russet, peeled and cut into 1∕4-inch dice (about 4 cups)
3 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth
3 cups water
4 ounces trimmed Swiss chard, cut into pieces approximately 1 inch long and 1∕2-inch thick
Heat a 4-to-5-quart soup pot over medium-high heat; add the bacon, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the pieces start to brown. Strain; discard the rendered bacon fat or reserve it for another use. Use paper towels to wipe out the pot.
Return the bacon to the pot (over medium-high heat). Add the oil, letting it heat up for 1 minute, then add the leeks, stirring to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 15 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to allow the leeks to cook without browning, until they are soft and cooked through.
Add the potatoes, broth and water. Bring to a boil; cook for 10 minutes, adjusting the heat so the liquid maintains a steady yet not vigorous boil. Stir in the chard and cook for 10 minutes. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Makes about 10 1-cup servings.