To most coastal residents, chowder means one thing: seafood (usually clams). However, for much of landlocked, rural America, chicken was the traditional choice for a creamy, chowder-like soup. The rest of the recipe (potatoes, cream, bacon) is the same, but the base is chicken stock and the creamy soup contains chunks of chicken meat as well as lots of vegetables.
Many old-fashioned recipes for this American soup rely on potatoes to thicken the broth. But all those potatoes can give the soup a mealy texture. We prefer to thicken the soup with a little flour added to the pot just before the stock. The flour is cooked briefly in the pot with the sautéed onion, garlic, and thyme to remove its raw flavor. We still add potatoes to make the soup hearty, opting for Yukon Gold potatoes because they hold their shape well. We like carrot and red bell pepper but this recipe could accommodate almost any fresh vegetable. A cup of cream added to the nearly finished soup provides the requisite silky texture and richness.
Once the chowder is done, it should be served. If you like, you can make the stock a day in advance; just refrigerate the stock and poached breast meat separately until you're ready to make the soup.
Total Cooking Time: about 2 hours
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Active Cooking Time: about 2 hours
Make Ahead: Serve immediately
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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