You can’t see the tree for the forest: Ginny’s Chicken Cheddar Chowder

Here’s a tune for our friends who love dogs and for the dogs who love our friends, compliments of Ginny, the ultimate dog lover. If you receive this post from Marla in the Kitchen, rather than an email from me, click on the post title, “You can’t see the tree”  and you will be taken to the blog’s website where YouTube videos can be played.

Some of our family dogs. See, we don’t need a dog of our own, we have plenty. 

From left to right: Lucy, Susie, Palouse, Gracie, Jack, Rusty, Bayer, Gina, Riva, Arthur, and Louie.




Anyways, back to life in Chicago. Once again, we have a minor medical mishap and no bandaids. But without a car, a quick trip to the drugstore is out of the question. I can see a Walgreen’s sign from the hotel window, so it can’t be far. iPhone and I head out the door and turn left on Grand. The blue Google Maps arrow dances around, finally resting at “left on Michigan” and we’re off. 

What? “right on Rush”? I don’t see any “Rush.” (I figured out today that at every other downtown Chicago intersection, the street sign faces the opposite direction of the one before. So if you are lost, just go to the middle of the street, turn around, pause, and look up. If you don’t get run over, you can see what street you’re on.) My Google choices are to climb up two flights of stairs (to who knows where) or to walk straight on, through a dark underpass. I choose the stairs, climb up toward the light, stepping away from the herd once to catch my breath, and reach a beautiful courtyard plaza and an open, blue sky. Photo-worthy, but where’s Walgreen’s? The building front is old and ornate, farmer’s produce stands line the courtyard, statues grace the perimeter, someone is installing a skating rink, selfie-taking abounds. All very cool, but where’s Walgreen’s?

I sit down on a bench, pondering my options. Pulsing blue orb has replaced dancing arrow, so I’ve gotta be close. Then I notice walkers with Walgreen’s sacks coming out of the first floor of that old, ornate building in the middle of the plaza. Ta Da! Walgreen’s is inside the famous Wrigley Building, who knew? Chicago, your secret is safe with me.

We are camp cooking again: this time, it’s with two small burners and a microwave. Can Mr. Coffee vegetables be far behind? As for kitchen equipment: three cheap stainless steel pans (certain to burn everything), no peeler, no grater, one knife, no cutting board—but there is a sink. Everything has to be one-pot: one pot pasta, sautéed chicken breasts, pork chops, or soup—forget anything stuffed, pounded, or having more than three ingredients. TJ’s is two blocks away, so look for microwaved brown rice, pre-made polenta, cooked chicken strips, and the occasional steak. Last night we had a passable creamy broccoli, potato, cheesy (enough good cheddar makes anything taste better) soup, similar to Ginny’s Chicken Cheddar Chowder, and a pre-made TJ’s spinach salad. 

Mario Batali’s amazing (but outrageously expensive), two-story Italian supermarket, Eataly, is a block away. So, for the cost of a vacation in Sicily, we can have burrata, arancini, truffled risotto, Lidia Bastianich’s spaghetti sauce with house-made pasta, dry-aged New York steaks, veal chops, and “rustic bread.” But Eataly is a post for another time.

Chicken Cheddar Chowder

  • 1 cup cooked chicken pieces (one sautéed, raw, diced, chicken breast, chicken pieces from roasted chicken, or canned chicken breast.)
  • 4 ounces bacon, chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced 
  • 1 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 tablespoon flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 4 cups chicken stock 
  • 1  cup diced potatoes
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half 
  • 4 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated

In a stockpot over medium heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. 

If you are using an uncooked skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut raw breast into cubes. Sauté in rendered bacon fat until cooked through. Remove and reserve. 

Add the onions and butter to the bacon fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. 

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.) Add the corn, cooked chicken pieces to the soup, then add the half-and-half and grated Cheddar. 

Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Serve with a garnish of bacon. 

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4 Responses to You can’t see the tree for the forest: Ginny’s Chicken Cheddar Chowder

  1. Patty Curtis says:

    Loved seeing all the dog faces since we hear about some occasionally! I hope with the trip to Walgreens, you remembered to use melrose oil for antiseptic protection before the bandaid? Okay sweeties looking forward to having you back on the west coast ❤️

  2. Ginny says:

    Awwww, all your doggie friends thank you.

  3. Kathy says:

    So glad you found Walgreens!! That chicken chowder sounds so good!!

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