Crowded Chowder

IMG_20140209_191406Crowded Chowder

Recipe from Good Food, Great Medicine

Click here for printable recipe

This creamy chowder, or a variation thereof, is in the top five in the world’s ten most useful recipes. The recipe can just as easily be transformed into clam chowder or vegetable chowder (see Note). Leftover cooked salmon added at the end makes a delicious variation, and barbecued salmon gives a nice smoky taste. The large amount of diced vegetables makes it inefficient to sauté all together, so I prefer to simmer them separately to make sure everything is tender in a reasonable time.  Not conventional, but it works.

(Serves 4 as a main dish)

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon crushed red chilies
1 – 2 large onions (4 – 6 cups diced)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon freshly crushed garlic
¼ cup all-purpose flour (½ cup if you prefer thicker chowder)
*Spicy option: 1 tsp ghost pepper

6 cups water or chicken stock or mixture
2 teaspoons salt
2 – 3 cups celery in lf4-inch dice, including tender leaves
2- 3 cups carrots in ¼ – inch dice
4 cups potatoes in ¼ – inch dice

½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pint half-and-half or 1 can (12 ounce) evaporated whole milk (see Note)
(1 cup minced fresh parsley or finely sliced green ends of green onions)

For fish and/or clam chowder:
2 pounds fresh fish in ½ x 1 inch chunks
2  10-ounce cans of whole baby clams, drained
2  6.5-ounce cans of minced clams, drained

For vegetable chowder
Add broccoli florets, diced zucchini, red bell peppers, corn, and a bag of baby spinach.

1. Heat a heavy pot (about 8 quarts) over medium heat and add oil. When oil is hot, add crushed chilies, onions, and curry powder, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Sauté until onions are tender, 10 – 15 minutes, depending on the size of the pot. Stir in garlic and sauté for another minute. Sprinkle flour over onions and cook for a minute or two, stirring to make sure flour is thoroughly blended. Remove from heat.

2. Meanwhile, bring water/ stock to a boil in another pot (about 6 quarts) and add remaining teaspoon of salt, celery, carrot, and potatoes. Bring back to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Return pot with the sautéed onion mixture to medium heat. Add 2 cups of the vegetable cooking water and stir until smooth. Carefully tip in the remaining water and cooked celery, carrot, and potatoes and blend thoroughly.  Add herbs and pepper. (The soup should taste pretty lively at this point; the milk/cream will mute the flavor somewhat.)

4. Stir half-and-half (or milk) and fish pieces into soup, and bring soup just to a simmer. The fish cooks in a flash, and the chowder is done. Add the minced parsley (or thinly sliced green onion tops, as an alternative) and serve it forth.

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