Eight ingredients. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a weeknight feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.
My favorite way to cook sweet summer corn is barely at all: steamed on the cob, with butter and salt to finish. But this comes in a close second: a creamy chowder made from the best of late-summer ingredients, including new potatoes, corn cut from the cob, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. Adding cream at the end provides texture and a welcome weight for cooler nights, while crumbled bacon pieces bring a savory depth to the dish.
In looking for a wine match, consider texture: The cream and bacon turn the weather vane for pairings toward white wines with a bit more body. A white Bordeaux and a Sauvignon Blanc from Italy—both wines that had seen some oak during production—were great.
Blame it on the heat of summer, but at first I had only thought of white wines for a match. A Tempranillo from Rioja in Spain, though, mirrored the smoky notes from the bacon and made for a good choice if you’re looking for a red.
The best match from our lineup came from a California Chardonnay. The creamy texture of the wine aligned nicely with the chowder, bringing out the more delicate fruit and spice flavors in the wine.
Pair with a California Chardonnay such as Beuhler Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2010 (88 points, $16)
Total time: 35 minutes
Approximate food cost: $27
1. In a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until browned, around 3 to 4 minutes, flipping occasionally. Remove the bacon from the pot and reserve.
2. Add the diced onion to the sauce pot and cook in the bacon fat over medium-high heat until the onion has softened and browned, around 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of wine (whatever you’re drinking will work best) and continue to cook until 1/2 the wine has evaporated.
3. Add the potatoes, the chicken stock and enough water to cover the potatoes. Raise the heat to high and continue to cook until the liquid is boiling, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue to cook until the potatoes are soft, around 15 minutes, then add the corn and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the heavy cream and adjust the seasoning with salt.
4. Crumble the crisped bacon. Portion the soup into 4 bowls and top with cherry tomatoes, crumbled bacon and basil and serve immediately. Serves 4.