Tag Archives: chowder

Summer Reflections: Clam Chowder

Posted by Lynda Balslev 

This week I am traveling in Stockholm and it’s surrounding archipelago. While I’ve visited the beautiful capitol before, I have never ventured into Stockholm’s surrounding archipelago which consists of some 24,000 islands. Within an hour you can find yourself on a tiny island surrounded by nature, and feel as if you are light years from the maddening crowd. More on that later, but in the meantime, I post this from the small island of Grinda.  With the outside air cool and fresh and a fire crackling inside the Grinda Wardshus great room, I can’t help but think of Clam Chowder. Blame it on my New England roots, all right, but a bowl of chowder sings summer to me – no matter if it’s a sunny day at the beach or an afternoon cloaked in fog.

Clam Chowder
Use the smallest clams you can get your hands on, such as little necks, middle necks, or, if you are on the U.S. west coast, manila clams. Serves 4 to 6.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced
1 small celery root, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 pound small fingerling potatoes, cut in 1/4-inch coins
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
12 manila or middle neck clams or 24 little neck clams
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and fry until the fat is nearly rendered (it will continue to render as the vegetables cook). Add the onion and leek and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the celery root and potatoes. Sauté until the vegetables being to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the milk, cream, stock, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil, then add the clams. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until clams open, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any unopened clam shells. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot garnished with fresh thyme sprigs.

Salmon and Spinach Chowder

It’s the time of year for bowl-food. When the weather is grey, wintry and cold, there’s nothing more satisfying then a big bowl of dinner. Steaming hot and full of hearty healthy flavors and ingredients, it’s meant to be eaten with big spoons and napkins to catch the dribbles.

I love to eat chowders year round, especially in the winter when creamy dishes hit the spot. I often add a number of ingredients to my chowder in addition to the requisite fish. While most firm fleshed fish work in chowders, my favorite is salmon. Its buttery oil-rich flesh shines in a creamy stock and is a perfect accompaniment to earthy vegetables, crucifers and greens.

We don’t usually have left-over salmon in our house, since it’s often gobbled up the moment it hits our dinner plates. In the rare occurrence when there is some filets left, I’ll often add them to the next day’s chowder. While this recipe starts with the premise of using raw fish, pre-cooked leftovers work just as well. Considering how expensive salmon can be, this is a great way to get two fabulous meals from one purchase. You just need to be lucky enough to have the leftovers.

Salmon and Spinach Chowder

Feel free to improvise with your greens. Kale or chard may be substituted for the spinach. If you are cauliflower-averse, you can omit it and add extra spinach.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups water
2 medium yukon gold potatoes, about 3/4 pound, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 1/2 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 cup heavy cream
1 to 1 1/4 pounds salmon filet, skin and pin-bones removed, cut in 3/4-inch chunks
1 bunch fresh spinach leaves, stems removed, torn into large pieces
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chopped dill

Heat the oil and melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the water and whisk to blend the flour. Add the potatoes and cauliflower. There should be enough water to cover the vegetables. If not, add more water to cover. Simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the paprika, Tabasco, and cream. Bring to a simmer. Add the salmon and simmer until cooked (or heated) through. Stir in the spinach and briefly cook until bright green in color and wilted, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with fresh dill and serve immediately.

Clam Chowder

~ Clam Chowder with Root Vegetables and Thyme ~

I happened to have some left over clams this week. While you scratch your heads and think, who and why would anyone have left over clams, – I’ll just say that they were the delicious vestiges of the next round of the Lambs and Clams Contest, sponsored by the Charleston Food and Wine Festival. For more details on that, you will have to tune in next week for my official post and submission. Until then, let’s talk leftovers. More specifically, let’s talk chowder.

I don’t know about you but when the weather chills down, I can’t think of anything more comforting than a bowl of piping hot, creamy chowder – blame it on my New England roots. So, this week, as the temperatures dropped and we had a deluge of rain, I found myself in the possession of some lovely clams,  and I made this chowder. Use the smallest clams you can get your hands on, such as little necks, middle necks, or, if you are on the U.S. west coast, manila clams. Typically, onions and potatoes accompany clams in a chowder. In this soup, I’ve also added leeks, celery root and turnips, which add flavor to the creamy broth, while maintaining a nice white color theme.

Clam Chowder
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 large black radishes or 1 medium white turnip, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/2 small celery root, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/2 pound small fingerling potatoes, cut in 1/4-inch coins
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
12 manila or middle neck clams or 24 little neck clams
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add bacon and fry until fat is nearly rendered (it will continue to render as the vegetables cook). Add onion and leek and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add turnip, celery root and potatoes. Sauté until vegetables soften, about 3 minutes.  Add milk, cream, stock, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil. Add clams. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until clams open, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any unopened clam shells. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot garnished with fresh thyme sprigs.

Smoky Salmon and Fennel Chowder

~ Smoky Salmon and Fennel Chowder ~

While most of the country suffers through a heat wave, San Francisco is enjoying a typical Bay area summer, blanketed in misty fog which keeps the temperatures chilly. The skies brighten by mid-day, but the air remains fresh with wind blowing in from the Pacific. I call this chowder weather, and turn to my favorite recipe. I like to make chowder with a variety of thick-fleshed fish, but always include a portion of smoked salmon to add an extra layer of warmth in flavor. In this recipe, smoky rich salmon swims in a creamy broth infused with the delicate whiff of anise from fennel. Its warm, salty, and smoky, transporting me to the seaside. All that’s missing are the cries of seagulls and the distant sound of clanging bouys.

Smoky Salmon and Fennel Chowder
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
1 medium fennel bulb, fronds removed and reserved, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
Salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups water
1/2 pound russet or yukon potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds salmon filet, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound warm smoked salmon, flaked
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil and butter in a deep skillet or soup pot. Add onion, fennel and 1 teaspoon salt. Saute until the onion and fennel soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add water and potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer until potatoes are tender but not too soft, 15 minutes. Stir in salmon, cream and black pepper. Simmer until salmon is cooked through and chowder is hot, 8 to 10 minutes.
Taste for salt – depending on how salty the salmon is,  you may need more. Serve hot, garnished with chopped fennel sprigs and extra pepper.

Salmon Chowder with Cauliflower and Spinach

~ Salmon Chowder  with Cauliflower and Spinach ~

If I had to name one East Coast food I miss the most, it would be a good chowder. Chowder speaks New England to me. It speaks of summer with squeaky sandy beaches radiating heat and rainy days in a firelit pub, crowded fishing harbors with clanging boueys and circling seagulls, and the unmistakable smell of the ocean and seaweed suspended in fog. I moved away from New England 20 years ago, and still feel as though it’s in my bones – especially in the summer when I crave a clam or fish chowder. To satisfy this craving, I’ve learned to make my own. There is nothing more confirming that you are not-in-New-England-anymore, than when you order a “chowder”  in different corners of the world that you call your new home. The results can be dismaying. So, long ago I decided to just figure it out myself.

The fish has varied upon location. In Boston, of course, littleneck clams are the star ingredient. In France, I improvised with tiny vongoles, in England I dabbled with smoked cod, and in Denmark I relied on plentiful salmon. And now, in the Bay area, my favorite remains salmon.  The buttery richness of salmon permeates the broth, adding a pleasant and necessary dimension to the creamy soup. For extra smokiness, I might add a little smoked salmon, but simple salmon will do. I’ve been making chowder for so long now, it’s become a staple in our menu rotation and my kids have grown up eating it, wherever we’ve lived.

Salmon Chowder with Cauliflower and Spinach

Serves 4.

2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups water
2 medium yukon potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch dice
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped cauliflower florets
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound salmon filet, pin-bones removed, raw or pre-cooked
1 bunch fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, 2 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, another 2 minutes. Add water and whisk to blend the flour. Add the potatoes and cauliflower. Simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in paprika, Tabasco, milk and cream. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat. Add salmon and simmer until fish is cooked through if using raw salmon, or heated through if salmon is pre-cooked. Stir in spinach and briefly cook until bright green in color and wilted, 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and serve immediately.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes from TasteFood:
Oyster Stew with Chorizo and Spinach
Coconut Shrimp Curry
Cauliflower and Celery Root Soup with Crispy Kale

or these chowder recipes from the food blogs:
Smoky Corn Chowder from the Soup Chick
Rhode Island Clam Chowder from Leite’s Culinaria
Raw Corn Chowder from A Veggie Venture

Smoking Hot: Salmon and a Smoky Chowder Recipe


Smoked Salmon Chowder

This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge is smoking hot, all right. The instructions? To hot smoke pork or salmon. Last month I wined and brined a pork rib roast, so I decided to go fish this month. After all, who can resist a slab of succulent, smoky salmon? In our home it’s considered it’s own food group.

I made several filets, knowing that if I didn’t look out, the smoked salmon would be gobbled straight up before I could embellish or create a recipe with it. My strategy was to centrally place a finished piece in the refrigerator for sacrificial consumption – a decoy, if you will – while I stashed another couple of hunks in the crisper for later creative use.

First things first, the hot and smoking method is simpler than you may think. Methods abound using smokers, weber grills, woks, stovetop smokers. I have a weber kettle grill, which I’ve often used for smoking, so chose that method. The salmon should be brined first, which may be done in as little as an hour or over several days. The longer brine time results in salmon gravlax, which produces saltier, more flavorful results – perfect if you wish to enjoy the fish au natural. I didn’t want to wait, opting for a 2 hour brine, followed by air-drying and smoking the fish, all of which I accomplished within an entire day. There is a straight forward explanation on the entire process here.


Fast forward a day, and, as expected, the decoy fish was quickly consumed. It’s been raining lately, and I have had a hankering for a creamy, smoky chowder. I make chowders all the time, and always include a smoky component – either in the form of smoked fish or bacon. In this rendition, the only fish I used for the chowder was the hot smoked salmon. The results were wickedly good.

Smoked Salmon Chowder
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, fronds removed, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
Salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pound russet or yukon potatoes, peeled, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups water
2 pounds hot smoked salmon, broken in chunks (or 1 pound smoked salmon + 1 pound uncooked salmon filet)
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil and butter in a deep skillet or soup pot. Add onion, fennel and 1 teaspoon salt. Saute until the onion becomes translucent and the fennel softens, 3 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add potatoes and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer until potatoes are tender but not too soft, 15 minutes. Stir in salmon, cream and black pepper. Simmer 10 minutes.
Taste for salt – depending on how salty the salmon is, you may need more. Serve hot, garnished with fresh parsley or chopped fennel sprigs.

Salmon and Cauliflower Chowder

Salmon Cauliflower Chowder

This recipe has been perfected over the years due to necessity.  As a transplanted Bostonian living in 5 different countries, from time to time I found myself craving an authentic New England Chowder.  Perhaps my craving was triggered by a drizzly, misty day outside.  Or, perhaps it was inspired by a summer day spent in sun and sand at the seashore. Maybe it was just because I was feeling wistful for home.  No matter the case, there was one thing I could be assured of:  In Geneva, London or Copenhagen I would be hard pressed to find a good authentic chowder.  This is when what I consider the Darwinian component of living and eating abroad would rear its head. It’s a simple and proactive means of survival: If you can’t find it, make it yourself.  This attitude is essential to those nostalgic culinary moments all expatriates share.  While the key to a happy expat experience is to embrace the local culture, there must be forgiving moments of indulging one’s roots and consuming comforting recipes that Mom used to make, all in the spirit of balance.

So, finding myself far from New England and craving a creamy, salty, smoky chowder, I began making my own in the nineties when I lived in Geneva.  I had the advantage of a few tricks in my repertoire, gleaned from working experience in a seafood restaurant during college.  I took many things away from that fun experience including a taste for and basic understanding of seafood and good chowder.  I incorporated this knowledge as my own chowder recipe evolved while I moved from Geneva to London and then to Copenhagen.  The end result is a fish chowder that is incredibly simple in ingredients and execution, with the one variable being the fish.

Originally, in Geneva I made the chowder with the little vongoles I found at the market in the fish department.  Vongoles are tiny versions of little neck clams traditionally used in New England Clam Chowder.  While they added the right flavor, I found their tiny size underwhelming. When we moved to London, I experimented with the prolific smoked cod found in the markets, and this was the highlight of my experimentation.  The cod added a wonderfully deep and savory smoked flavor to the chowder, while the texture of the cod gave it a toothsome and satisfying bite.  In Copenhagen, I found it surprisingly difficult and exceedingly expensive to find smoked cod, so I substituted smoked haddock and dry smoked salmon in its place as a smaller fish component, while using chunks of regular cod and/or halibut as the white fish.

Now I am back in the U.S. and I continue to make this recipe at home.  When we go out to restaurants chowder is on the menu, but, you know what?  I prefer my own.

Salmon and Cauliflower Chowder

This recipe includes cauliflower which is very compatible with the cream-based soup and salmon.  It also adds nutrients and substance  for an easy one-dish meal.  Serves 6.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 pound (500 g.) russet or yukon potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch dice (peeling optional)
5 cups water
2 cups cauliflower florets in 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup (250 ml.) heavy cream
1/4 pound (125 g.) dry smoked salmon, broken in chunks
1 pound (500 g.) salmon filets, pin bones and skin removed, cut in 1 inch chunks
Salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter in pot over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté until they sweat without browning, about 2 minutes.  Add flour and cook stirring, 3 minutes.  Add water and potatoes.  Simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.  Add cauliflower and continue to simmer until cauliflower is tender, 6-8 minutes.  Stir in heavy cream and salmon.  Cook, stirring, over medium heat until salmon is cooked through, breaking some of the pieces up with your spoon.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve in warm bowls with extra ground black pepper.