2 good-sized yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 1/2 inch)
1 medium onion, chopped the sautéed garlic
2 cans whole-kernel corn (15-16 oz.), drained
1 teaspoon salt fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups broth (chicken, vegetable, or vegetarian “chicken” flavor)
Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker in the order above
Put the cooker on low, and cook for about 8 hours. (At about 7 hours I checked the yams to see if they were tender.)
Once the yams are tender, stir everything together. Use an immersion blender to break up the ingredients as much as you want--I like my chowder chunky, but breaking up some of the yams and corn makes the soup thicker and more luxurious. (The very ambitious/elegant can move the soup to a blender to puree before returning it to the slow cooker. I’ll cheer you on from my fainting couch.)
Add: 2 cups half-and-half or whole milk (depending on how virtuous you want to be)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon smoked sweet or hot paprika (optional)
Close up the pot and cook for an hour more. Taste the soup, correct the seasoning (it may well need more salt, to balance the sweet yams and dairy), and serve.
The soup was good right away, but the bowl I had for lunch the following noon, after the soup (and I) had rested overnight, developed an intense creamy sweetness, plenty of corn flavor, and a bright orange color.
I put in the smoked paprika to simulate bacon. I like bacon in chowder, but the same lazy self who bought the cooker in the first place was not about to fry up a few slices and dirty another pan (see the garlic note above). My friend Mary-Ann suggested that one could partially substitute frozen corn that had been roasted for a while to caramelize. In season we could talk about fresh corn. In either case I’d have to figure out the volume equivalents of two cans of corn--much more effort than I intended, and completely unnecessary for what turned out to be a decadent soup, maybe next time.