6 slices pepper bacon, diced (if you don't want to buy pepper bacon, get regular bacon and grind tons of black pepper over it while preparing; see below)
1 T vegetable oil (olive oil is a good sub)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 large fennel bulb, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped (minced garlic in a jar is an OK sub..1/2 tsp = 1 clove fresh garlic)
1 T flour
4 C Chicken stock (make your own or use canned chicken broth as a sub)
4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
Kernels cut from 5 ears corn (about 2 C). Or...2 C frozen corn is a good sub
1 C heavy cream
1/4 C cayenne pepper sauce
Salt and black papper to taste.
In a large stockpot, cook diced bacon until crisp. (I use a Calphalon 6 1/2 quart stock pot - perfect size for this or an 8 quart is great as well). Add oil and heat. Add onion, fennel and garlic. Saute until tender, about 2 minutes.
Add flour and stir while cooking for about 1 minute. Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Add diced potatoes and cook until barely tender.
Add corn and cream and bring to a boil. Season with cayenne sauce, salt and pepper. Serve hot.
NOTES: I prefer to cook the bacon in a separate, small fry pan so I don't have bacon grease in the stockpot with the rest of the chowder. I cook the bacon till it's barely done and then transfer with a slotted spoon to the large stockpot with the onion, garlic and fennel.
If you are using frozen corn add it in very last minute so it doesn't get too tough.
Serve hot! This soup is a MEAL with corn bread or sourdough bread.
From the book: Cooking with Caprial, by Caprial Pence, 1996