Soup is good food! It really is! And it’s easy to make it a meal. A big chunky soup chock full of soupy goodness may fill you up. If you happen to be a ‘bigger eater’ (that would be me), make a salad, a grilled cheese, rip off a hunk of good bread, dip it in some olive oil and call it dinner. Or lunch. Even breakfast. Yes breakfast! Try it sometime. People all over the world are doing it. You would be totally cosmopolitan if you had soup for breakfast.
This week’s soup is slightly more involved than boiling a bag of those freaky ‘baby’ carrots and whirring them in a blender. If nothing else I didn’t end up with remnants of soup in my hair.
On Sunday I made clam chowder. Now this is a proper New England style chowder full of potatoey, clammy, chowdery goodness. Not that nasty tomato based Manhattan style clam chowder. I love Manhattan. Just not the chowder. I also love Manhattans, but that’s for another time.
New England Clam Chowder with Old Bay Oyster Crackers
Makes 8 six-ounce servings
- 5 cups oyster crackers
- 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
- a two finger pinch fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 eight oz. bottles Bar Harbor clam juice (any bottled clam juice will do)
- 2 six oz. cans Bar Harbor clams, chop them if they are whole, juice drained and reserved (I actually used a bag of razor clams given to me to my very kind neighbor K. If you can get them. If you can go clamming. Do. Are there razor clams on the east coast? I should probably google that.)
- 4 ounces bacon, diced
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 cups yellow onion, peeled and small dice
- 1 cup celery, washed, trimmed and small dice (I completely omitted the celery. If you know me at all you know I have very strong feelings when it comes to celery. I. Hate. It. A useless, yucky veg if there ever was one. My hatred of celery may be controversial, overwrought and somehow un-American. Deal with it. Just the concept of stringy, slimy celery floating in my soup makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit. Diatribe over.)
- 1 tablespoon garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/8 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed (I also decided against the fennel. While I’m actually quite fond of fennel and may add it next time, I just wasn’t feeling it.)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 dried bay leaves (oops I’m pretty sure I forgot the bay leaves.)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (optional, depends on if you want thick chowder or not) (who doesn’t want a thick chowder?)
- 2 cups Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and 1/2 inch dice
- 16 ounces 1/2 & 1/2 (Yes. 16 oz. 2 cups! You read that right. I’m sure you could use fat-free milk or some other low-calorie nonsense. But if you do I can’t be held responsible if the soup tastes disgusting.)
- kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper
- 1 tablespoon chives, minced
- 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, minced
- For the crackers, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the oil, seasoning and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the crackers and toss to coat them well with the seasoned oil. Spread then out on a baking sheet and bake them for 10 minutes or until they start to take on a little golden color. Remove them from the oven and let cool. (Def doing this next time.)
- Place a 3 1/2 quart heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat and add the bacon. Let the bacon render its fat (you should have about two tablespoons of fat in the pan) and saute it until it becomes crispy, not crunchy, and starts to brown.
- Add the butter, onions and
celery. Saute the vegetables until they are tender but do not brown them. Add the garlic, thyme and fennel. Saute until the spices become fragrant, not even a minute.
- If you aren’t using the flour add the clam juice and move on to the next step. (You will use the flour!) If you want thicker chowder add the flour and stir it around letting it absorb the fat. Once the flour starts to smell the slightest bit nutty add the clam juice and the reserved clam juice. It is important to cook the flour taste out of the flour so be patient and make sure you cook it long enough.
- Add the half and half. (Yes all of it!) Bring the liquid to a boil and add the potatoes. Bring it back to a boil and then reduce the heat to the lowest simmer setting your stove has. Taste the soup to see how salty the clam juice is, adjust the seasoning by adding more salt if necessary. Add a few grinds of white pepper. Add the clams, stir then cover the pot and let it simmer for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.
- Turn off the heat and let the chowder sit, covered, for one hour to let the flavors meld.
- Before serving add the parsley and chives. Adjust the seasoning and reheat the chowder till hot. Serve
Recipe and image once again courtesy of the fabulous people at Food52. They really should hire me don’t you think?
Enjoy. Until next time Moose out.