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Rich Wants to Know How I Make Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder

Rich, when all your soup recipes start to seem like variations on the same theme, it’s time to try some Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder! It doesn’t have to be spicy, in spite of the name, but it is quite capable of being the whole meal. The recipe is originally from a Taste of Home magazine many years ago, but I have, of course, changed it to suit my ideas of healthy cooking and what I tend to keep on hand.

One of my ideas on nutrition is that it is always better to cook the chicken with the bones and skin. This falls in the category of “I can’t shake the idea that there are many nutrients that we are not aware of that we will be more likely to consume if we eat a variety real and whole food most of the time.” Thus, it is chicken fat and bone marrow in the soup for my family! (click on any photo to enlarge)

Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder in my favorite bowl.

Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder in my favorite bowl.

Here is a list of ingredients to make enough to serve about 10 hungry people:

  • about 4 pounds chicken thighs, with bone and skin, enough to end up with around 4 cups of cooked chicken after de-boning. I typically just cook all the chicken from one of the oblong packages, roughly 16 inches by 8 inches, of chicken thighs
  • 8 cups of water, maybe a bit more if it cooks off much
  • chicken base (optional)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of salt (I use sea salt)
  • 1 medium onion, diced. This comes to about 2 cups, but doesn’t need to be exact
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 16 ounces Jack Cheese, Tillamook brand much preferred (more on that later)
  • 1 teaspoon dehydrated garlic, or whatever form of garlic you have equal to a couple of cloves minced
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2-5 drops of hot pepper sauce, i.e. Tabasco
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups cream
  • 4 cups frozen corn
  • 1.5 cups diced fresh tomatoes
  • other green veggies (pre-cooked for easier heating at the end or make sure to add them with the corn), like green beans or cut up spinach or peas or frozen or dehydrated grated zucchini! (optional)

Process:

1. Place the 8 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and rinsed chicken thighs in an 8.5 quart pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until chicken is tender.

Cut up cooked chicken for Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder

Cut up cooked chicken for Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder

2. Use a slotted spoon to get the chicken thighs out of the water and put them on a cutting board until all is cool enough to handle for getting meat off. When it is, cut it up into bite-size pieces sometime before you start adding the corn, cheese, and cream to the chowder. (Give a couple of the cooked and cooled chicken skins to the dog. Save the bones for Wild Greg to gnaw on or recook as he desires. Really. That is what he wants.)

3. Meanwhile, dice onion and saute in olive oil until soft. If using fresh garlic, put this in to cook when the onion is very close to done. Stir these into the broth in the pot. If using a dried form of garlic, just add it to the broth without other cooking.

4. Grate the Jack cheese and cut up the tomatoes for adding later.

Jack cheese grated, tomatoes from the garden ready to dice.

Jack cheese grated, tomatoes from the garden ready to dice.

5. Taste the broth and see if you need to add any chicken base or salt for more flavor.

Here is what my broth looked like after I took out the chicken thighs. I suppose I could have cooked the onions, garlic, and maybe even a few carrots, in with it, but I don't like dealing with the little pieces of vegetables when trying to get the cooked chicken out of the pot. Call me picky. I only recently finally gave in to getting the cooked meat off of the bones with my hands, having previously been stubborn about not getting my hands in food.

Here is what my broth looked like after I took out the chicken thighs. I suppose I could have cooked the onions, garlic, and maybe even a few carrots, in with it, but I don’t like dealing with the little pieces of vegetables when trying to get the cooked chicken out of the pot. Call me picky. I only recently finally gave in to getting the cooked meat off of the bones with my hands, having previously been stubborn about not getting my hands in food.

6. Add the cumin and corn and any other raw or frozen or dehydrated (you might need to adjust total water if chowder gets too thick) vegetables, cooking until all the vegetables are done, about 10 minutes after the pot comes back to a simmer.

And then, the corn -

And then, the corn -

7. Stir in the milk and cream over medium to low heat, being careful not to scald, but getting it warm enough to melt the cheese.

8. Gradually mix in the grated cheese, constantly stirring to avoid clumping. I have always used Tillamook cheese (no other cheese tastes good to me) until this last time when I made the soup and experimented with another brand. This was the first time I remember having trouble with cheese clumping in 20 years. If you do have issues with the cheese clumping, you might look at this link. But be encouraged that a little clumping didn’t ruin the taste at all.

9. Now it is time to return the chicken to the pot, as well as the cut up tomatoes, and any other pre-cooked veggies you want to have.

10. Add hot sauce, 1-2 drops at a time, mixing and tasting until desired zing is reached. I have very sensitive taste buds and do NOT like hot salsa or anything of that nature, but I like the touch of hot sauce in this chowder! For me and young kids, 2 drops in a pot about this size has been plenty in the past, although the last time we made it, 5 drops was reasonable for me (kids are grown and tougher). Wild Greg just adds a generous amount to his bowl later.  :-)

There is nothing more to say, except if you don’t make enough for left-overs, you will be disappointed.

Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder at its creamy finish, partly held up in a ladle so you can see better how hearty it is!

Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder at its creamy finish, partly held up in a ladle so you can see better how hearty it is!

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