While we may lose our ability to digest lactose as we get older, we rarely lose our love of creamy soups and sauces. This recipe makes a fairly traditional corn chowder with unsweetened soy milk instead of half-and-half. It does include a bit of butter, which is low in lactose and can often be tolerated by those of us who can't handle a fresh glass of milk without ill effects.
The recipe as written is fairly high in saturated fats. If you wish to reduce those fats, you can replace the bacon fat and butter with olive oil which is high in healthier, mono-unsaturated fats
In a medium large soup pot, over medium high heat, saute the diced bacon until it most of its fat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon pieces from the pot and set aside.
Pour the bacon fat into a heat-proof glass measuring cup. If there is less than 1/4 cup of fat, add butter to equal 1/4 cup total fat. Alternatively, discard the bacon fat and use olive oil for less saturated fat in the final dish.
In the pot in which the bacon was cooked, over medium heat, saute the celery and the herbs in 2 tablespoons fat. Saute slowly for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the wine and cook briefly to fully deglaze the pot. If not using wine, pour a little water in the pot and stir to deglaze.
Add the potatoes and the water, stir, cover, and simmer on low heat for 25 minutes.
Add the corn and bacon to the potato mixture, stir and cover to continue cooking while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
In a separate sauce pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons fat over medium low heat. Add the flour, salt and pepper, whisk until smooth and cook until desired color is reached, being careful not to burn the mixture, which is called a roux. The darker the roux, the toastier the flavor and the darker the resulting soup. Watch point: if the roux turns black, it is burned; discard it and make a new roux.
Slowly pour the milk into the roux, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. When hot, pour into the soup pot with the other ingredients. Stir to mix.
Cover, and let the soup simmer very slowly on low heat for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. If you wish a thicker soup, use an immersion blender for a few seconds or move 2 cups to a blender, process until smooth, and return to pot.
Allow to continue to cook over very low heat for another 5 minutes, taste, and make final seasoning adjustments if needed.
Serve hot. Optionally, garnish with grated cheese, fresh herbs, croutons, or oyster crackers.