Some very good friends of mine recently brought a huge bowl of seafood chowder to share with me at work. It was a white creamy soup, jam packed with lots of lovely seafood – scallops, calamari, mussels and prawns being the predominant ingredients.
It was the most gorgeous comfort food to imbibe on a chilly day and as I wanted to make some this evening I tracked down a few recipes on the internet and did some adapting to my tastes. I would say my biggest influence though was the clam chowder recipe from Larouse.
Some of the recipes I located used potatoes, I am not a huge fan of the texture of potatoes in a soup plus I prefer to steer clear of them so I substituted pumpkin for potato. I didn’t use a lot of pumpkin just enough to provide an golden/orange tone to the colour of the soup.
I also used cream, though I dabbled with the thought of light carnation milk but then when I had purchased such gorgeous seafood I think some light tinned cream just wouldn't do my chowder justice plus it's not like I make seafood chowder every weekend.... maybe that will change.
1 medium onion 3 rashers bacon diced 1 red/green capsicum 3 stalks celery small piece of pumpkin few dried red chillies finely diced
1.5 litres vegetable stock* salt and pepper Italian Parsley
lots of mussels (12) couple of dozen green prawns, 3 -4 tubes of cleaned calamari cut into strips, couple of dozen scallops, 1 fillet white flesh fish
300mls cream** 40 grams butter 40 grams of plain flour (I think? I used 3 heaped wooden spoonfuls not a flat wooden spoon hope that helps)
Remove the rind from the bacon and simmer the bacon in water for a few minutes then drain and dice.
Add the diced bacon to the finely diced onion, capsicum, celery, pumpkin and red chillies and saute in some garlic infused olive oil for 5 - 10 minutes, do not allow the ingredients to brown. Add the vegetable stock and simmer for 20 minutes. (I didn't do it, but in retrospect I think a liberal splash of white wine wouldn't have hurt at this stage)
While the vegetable stock is simmering, in a separate saucepan melt the butter but don't allow it to brown then add the plain flour stirring it until it mixes into a smooth paste. Stir the flour and butter in the saucepan on medium heat for 3 minutes then remove the saucepan from the heat and add the cream, mixing until smooth and there are no lumps.
Add the roux to the vegetable stock and mix through thoroughly until the chowder is heated through. Add the seafood and mix in thoroughly. I then turned the chowder off and let it stand till I was ready to serve.
When I reheated the chowder I did so until the seafood flesh was firm. I then seasoned with salt and white pepper. Prior to serving the chowder I scattered some finely chopped Italian Parsley over it.
I also decided to serve the chowder with some garlic bread which I made from some long bread rolls cut in half with lashings of garlic butter dotted with some parsley. The garlic butter I quickly mashed together with my pestle and mortar and then toasted the bread under the grill (broiler).
*I decided against using a fish stock and I used vegetable stock instead. My reason being, that I didn't want an intense seafood flavour from the start, I wanted the flavour from the seafood I was adding to eventually infuse the chowder as I reheated it prior to serving. **I found that the chowder became thin on reheating so I found myself quickly thickening again with a cornflour paste which I had made with milk. I think the thickness of the chowder is a personal preference, in this case I wanted something that was about the thickness of a custard which in turn made the soup extremely filling.