A friend is currently in the US and has raved about the New England Clam Chowder he discovered in Boston. This got me thinking about the Seafood Chowder I tried and loved when I was in San Francisco a few years ago. There are many variations on the chowder recipe, normally inspired by fresh produce available in different regions in the US, and further back in history, several parts of Europe. I decided to try to make my version of chowder now that the weather has got cooler here in Sydney.
You could use any type of seafood that inspires you and is fresh; prawns, fish, shellfish etc. I used clams, as my fish monger had fresh ones available vacuum packed in their own juice and ready to go. I left the clams in their shell, purely for aesthetic purposes. A lot of recipes use bacon, but as a pescitarian, I substituted smoked salmon to give a smokey depth of flavour. I love things spicy so I added cayenne pepper for heat and smoked paprika to pimp up the smokey stakes. If you don’t like things quite so hot, skip the cayenne and just use the smoked paprika. Some recipes use a roux (a mixture of flour and fat) to thicken the soup and leave the potatoes chunky, I skipped the flour and blended the potatoes to thicken my soup.
You can serve your chowder with water cracker biscuits (which I think are similar to the American style oyster crackers), crusty bread, croutons, or as it was done in San Francisco, in hollowed out sour-dough bread.
What I was cooking this time last year: Pasta Pronto
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 onion
- 2 sticks of celery
- 1 carrot
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried
- 100g smoked salmon
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1kg potatoes
- 1kg vacuum pack fresh clams
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 bunch parsley
- cream (optional, for serving)
- Bread or crackers, to serve
- Finely chop the onion, carrot and celery.
- Pick the thyme leaves off their stalks, and the parsley leaves off their stalks.
- Finely chop the parsley leaves and set aside.
- Finely chop the tender parsley stalks (discard any that are too thick).
- Heat the oil in a large pan.
- Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, parsley stalks, thyme leaves, garlic cloves, bay leaves, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika.
- Cook, stirring occasionally while you roughly chop the smoked salmon.
- Add the smoked salmon to the pot and continue to cook and stir while you peel and chop the potatoes into 1cm dice.
- Strain the clam juice from the vacuum pack (you should end up with about 1 cup) and add to the pot.
- Add 2 cups of milk and 1 cup of water to the pan and cover with a lid.
- Cook until the potato is soft, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the bay leaves.
- Blend the soup until smooth.
- Add the clams to the soup pot and cook for another 5 – 10 minutes until the clams are hot.
- Your soup is ready to serve. Dish into bowls, drizzle with cream and garnish with chopped parsley. Enjoy.
What is your favourite soup? Has this post inspired any new ideas?