Smoked Bacon and Chicken Crock Pot Cream Soup

Normally, when I’m cooking up a recipe from someone else, I like to give credit where credit is due, provide a link (if possible) to the original site and let you know what sort of changes I’ve made, if any. Knowing that I needed to rise a wee bit early the morning I had planned to cook up this soup, I decided it would be best to read the recipe through, digesting the instructions the night before so that there would be no surprised the next morning. I am so glad I did! The instructions were not complete – beyond browning the chicken and putting the stock and bacon into a crock pot, there was nothing. Total silence. Hum, that’s not a good thing. Typically, when I save a recipe in Yumprint; it automatically saves the link as well, which it did. However; when I clicked on the link I received a warning that the site MAY not be safe. I don’t know about you, but those kinds of warnings generally stop me in my tracks. I’ve said this before – and I’ll say it again now – when all else fails, punt! I had the basic concept of the original recipe and enough cooking know-how to fill in the massive gaps. The results were a beautiful, thick, creamy soup. And while the original fragmented recipe called for chicken breast, I decided to opt for boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead. Why thighs? Two reasons – dark meat is more flavorful and we have been eating a ton of breasts lately – I needed a change.

The original title for the recipe was “chowder”; not “soup”. I really struggled with that whole “chowder” concept, since I’ve always equated “chowder” with something from the sea. The anal side of my personality decided just maybe I should google chowder to see what truly constitutes a chowder. Perhaps, in my narrow view I’m not thinking far enough outside the box. As it turns out, a chowder is a soup that contains milk and is typically thickened with a roux, although crackers can be used. It contains some sort of seafood or vegetables or both as the main ingredients. Clam Chowder is the most famous of all chowders; while Corn Chowder is a great example of a vegetable chowder. Chicken and bacon in a thick, creamy base is NOT a chowder. In other words; Creamy does not equate Chowder no matter how much we may wish it to be so. Now I’ve learned something new – something my instincts told me, but I really wasn’t sure of. Isn’t learning fun?

The only suggestion I would make for future reference would be MAYBE adding some chopped carrots, and ONLY as an option – my finished soup really didn’t need them, but the carrots would have been pretty splash of color.

One word of caution – it took me about 25 minutes from start to finish to get everything chopped, browned and into the crock pot. If you are like me, you’ll be prepping the pot before dashing out the door to face the “real” world. It’s always nice to know how much time you’ll need to get dinner going before the shower and second cup of coffee.

Just a quick note about crock pot cooking – if you haven’t “discovered” them yet, pick up a package of crock pot liners. We’ve been getting a great deal of use from our crock pots lately – and while a good soak will make clean up easier; a liner is heavenly. No clean up, except to wipe down the outside of the pot and wash the lid. Talk about easy – wow! Especially since most of us begin our day by filling the pot. Clean up your mess in the morning, and that’s about it besides a few bowls. What could make the evening any easier? Loving it!

Smoked Bacon and Chicken Crock Pot Cream Soup
1 lb. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs (about 6)
6 Strips Smokey Bacon
4 oz. Cream Cheese
1 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Cups Chicken Stock
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Pepper
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 Shallot, minced
1 Leek, chopped
3 Ribs Celery Hearts, chopped
6 oz. Mushrooms (I used a mix of Baby Portobello Mushrooms and White, stems removed)
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
A Few Sprigs Italian Flat Leaf Parsley for garnish

In a small sauce pan, warm chicken stock (this will aid in making the base for your chowder smooth).

Lay bacon in a stack. Split length wise, then width wise to slice into pieces. Place a dry pan over medium heat to warm nicely. When ready, toss bacon into pan and cook until crisp, stirring often. (While bacon is browning, cut thighs into chunks). Drain off excess fat, leaving about a tablespoon or so in the pan. Transfer bacon to slow cooker.

Pour 1 cup warm chicken stock into pot. Add cream, cream cheese and seasonings into slow cooker. Stir well to combine.

Toss chicken chunks into the pan used for the bacon until almost cooked through, about 6-8 minutes per side. If chicken is browning too quickly, lower heat just a little. Once nicely browned, add chicken chunks to slow cooker.

Toss shallots, leek, celery and mushrooms into the now empty pan. Stir and let brown about 2 or 3 minutes. Deglaze the chicken pan with the remaining 1 cup of chicken stock. Scrape to incorporate browned bits into mixture. Continue to cook until vegetables are almost tender, just another few minutes. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds longer. Pour contents of skillet into slow cooker, scrapping any remaining bits into the pot.

Cover and let cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.

Ladle soup into bowls or large coffee mugs. Garnish with parsley. Serve and enjoy!

Alternative Serving Suggestions: This “soup” is very rich, thick and oh so creamy. I brought a bowl to work for a warming lunch, as as I ate my delicious soup it struck me, this would be equally yummy, if not more so, served over an egg noodles pasta similar to a Beef Stroganoff.

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