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If you’re from New England, I’m sure I just screwed the pooch with this chowder. But I’m from Chicago and chowder is a great meal I’ve mostly had in restaurants and on New England and Canadian cruises.

The favorite man in my life (pictured above in Bar Harbor, I think) has always had a thing for Clam Chowder. So I’ve given it its due. It’s in my soup book bastardized with Twin Cities spring fresh peas and even fresh pea tendrils.

This time, however, I was out to change it up a little with the addition of a hefty infusion of vegetables:  leeks, cauliflower, peas, corn. That’s in addition to the usual suspects:  potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic.

I thought I’d add a cheesy grace note with a bit of very sharp Vermont Cheddar, which literally made the soup. Right after the green onions, I’d say. Not a cook-all-day type soup, my pot is done in 45 minutes or so–maybe less.  If you have any left, warm it up over low heat and enjoy it even more the next day.  Don’t forget the oyster crackers.  Try this for your last Friday Fish:

CLAM-VEGETABLE CHOWDER WITH CHEDDAR

6-8 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
  • 2 leeks, sliced (white and light green parts only, well-washed)
  • 2 each:  Celery stalks and peeled medium carrots, diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, minced, divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 8-ounce bottles clam juice
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup each 1/2-inch diced, unpeeled red potatoes and 1/4-inch sliced cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup each frozen peas and corn (or fresh, if available)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose, unbleached flour
  • 4 cups milk or half-and-half
  • Hot sauce
  • 3 6 1/2-ounce cans chopped clams with their juice
  • 4 green onions, sliced thinly, garnish
  • 4 ounces very sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup grated), garnish

In an 8 or 10-quart heavy pot, heat the butter and oil over medium flame for a minute. Add the leeks, celery, and carrots. Season with the salt and pepper and sauté until nearly tender–about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, 1/2 cup of the parsley, bay, thyme, clam juice, broth, and water; bring to a boil.  Add potatoes and cover, cooking for 5 minutes.  Add cauliflower, peas and corn, cover, and cook another 3-5 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.

In a large measuring cup, whisk flour into the milk and pour into the pot. Shake in 2-3 drops of hot sauce or to taste.  Add clams with juice and heat through over medium flame until chowder is beginning to bubble and has thickened.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve hot garnished with reserved parsley, green onions, and grated Cheddar.

{printable recipe}

Wine:  Chardonnay or Viognier

Table setting info:  Blue Calico dishes by Burleigh (UK), Placemats–Vintage by Town and Country.  White napkins:  Vintage damask (my mother’s, I think)

Sing a new song and keep an eye out for my Spring Brunch post–coming right up for the weekend with a sheet pan quiche perfect for that long Sunday afternoon.  Cook up some peace, friends…

Alyce