Chipotle Pumpkin Chowder

Matt and I got very lucky during Hurricane Sandy. We didn’t lose power, our neighborhood didn’t flood, and the wind damage didn’t directly get our building or our car.  We feel extremely fortunate.  And we know very well that many others are not so fortunate, so we’ve been trying to help out in any way we can.  Unfortunately, due to road flooding and limited access to public transportation, we can’t get to many of the badly affected areas.  But we can help fill the gap on one particular need: blood donation. So that’s what we did this morning. And if you are in a position to donate blood as well, I highly urge you to do so, NYC and New Jersey’s blood banks are in great need right now.

I made this chowder on Monday for lunch.  The hurricane wasn’t yet in full force, but the anticipation was riding extremely high. That was when we thought we would likely lose power and we were filling every vessel we could with water in preparation.  Matt thought I was a little nuts, but I was thinking I wouldn’t get to cook for the rest of the week, and I wanted to have one more time in the kitchen before that happened.  Fortunately, I needn’t have worried.

No one anticipated that Sandy would be as devastating as she turned out to be, so Monday was not a terribly heavy day for us, emotionally speaking. It was cold, rainy, and EXTREMELY windy outside, and this spicy chowder kept us warm and cozy for the afternoon.  It’s quite delicious and I would definitely recommend it.  And when you make it, may you not be awaiting a natural disaster!

Another (outstanding!) food blogger Jennie, who lives in Brooklyn, wrote a great post with links on how to help out in the aftermath, so I’m linking to it HERE. Definitely check it out. I’m adding some links as well, so if you can give anything or help out in any way, please do. The impact and devastation are very real.

This is where I donated blood this morning, check it out.
Of course you can and should donate to the Red Cross, they can use any amount you can afford to give.
The ASPCA needs donations. They are rescuing pets that were separated from their owners during the storm, and in the months to come, it is highly likely that people rebuilding their lives and homes won’t be able to keep their pets, so the ASPCA will have an influx of animals that need homes. Click here to help them out.
Also, a great NYC and Long Island no-kill animal shelter, Bideawee, is also doing pet rescue after Sandy. Matt and I adopted our three kitties from this shelter so I can vouch for them. We adopted our first two cats in fall of 2005, and the shelter was taking in Hurricane Katrina rescue pets. They are a fantastic operation, consider helping them out.
Click here for a comprehensive website specific to Queens. It has information on donation centers and needs, along with volunteer opportunities.
City Harvest is asking for donations to help distribute food to those ravaged by Sandy.
Not trying to get political here, but Occupy Wall Street has formed a volunteer effort called Occupy Sandy and they are providing much-needed services to those in affected areas in NYC. They are also in New Jersey.
As I hear of more I will update this list. And please feel free to leave any ideas, links, etc. in the comments section.

Source: adapted from Dave’s Dinners, by Dave Lieberman

3 tbs unsalted butter
Flesh from a 3-4 lb. sugar pumpkin, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, diced
3 tbs flour
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 lb. frozen corn kernels
2 chipotle peppers in adobo
1/2 cup heavy cream
Leaves from 5 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and black pepper
Handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Heat the butter in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pumpkin and onion and cook 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir into the onion and pumpkin. Gradually add the chicken stock, stirring all the while.
Add the corn, chipotles, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low to low, and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the bottom does not scorch. You want the pumpkin to be fork-tender but not falling apart.
Shut off the heat and puree the soup until smooth using an immersion blender. Alternately, you can puree it in batches in a regular blender.
Add in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro.

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