- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Succotash is a dish in which the whole triumphs over the parts. Who would guess that a combination of boiled beans and corn could be robust and comforting? Yet that’s the effect of this dish, which has been handed down from American Indians.

According to culinary historians, the original dish consisted of the cooked vegetables seasoned with a lump of fat and salt.

When Southern cooks embraced it, they added a thickener of flour and butter, making the recipe more substantial. You’ll see Southern menus in which succotash is served as part of a vegetable-based meal.

Not all steps to modernize this dish have meant its improvement, however. One succotash version from the early 20th century suggests adding tomato ketchup to the vegetables while they’re simmering.

Fortunately, that was a temporary aberration. My favorite succotash recipes flavor corn and beans with cream and butter. That’s the best and richest match and one that allows for delicious adaptations.

This rendition of succotash embraces but expands on the basics. I prefer succotash transformed into soup. By adding smoky-tasting Canadian bacon and half-and-half, this simple dish becomes a luxurious entree.

IIn the following recipe, I also take the liberty of substituting edamame (green soybeans) for the lima beans. If this addition, like tomato ketchup, is heretical, switch back to lima beans.

New age succotash chowder

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup hot chicken broth

1 cup corn kernels

cup edamame (green soybeans)

2 ounces diced Canadian bacon

cup half-and-half

1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and saute 1 minute or until tender.

Stir in flour and pepper until blended. Gradually add chicken broth, stirring until mixture is slightly thickened over medium-high heat. Stir in corn, edamame and Canadian bacon.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in half-and-half and 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste. Simmer 5 minutes to heat through and blend flavors.

Makes 2 servings.

Note: Edamame is usually available in freezer sections of the supermarket. You don’t have to thaw it first.

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