Tag Archives: soup

Simple New England Clam Chowder

16 Apr

For my dad’s birthday this year, J and I decided to cook him up a birthday seafood feast. The first thing he requested was New England clam chowder. He threw out a few more ideas but I already had a pretty good idea that we’d make scallops as a main. He almost always orders scallops when we go out, I was pretty sure they would go over well. Okay then! To the cookbook shelf!

I ended up making a slightly modified version of Martha Stewart’s New England clam chowder. I went with beautiful pre-cooked clams from St. Lawrence Market and some clam juice instead of fresh clams. There was a fair bit of work to be done for dinner in a small kitchen and, quite frankly, I was able to add a ton of flavour- and clams – to the soup while being able to spend more time with my guests. I’ll try ’em one day, but not that day. The recipe below, however, uses fresh clams and has a few of my own adjustments.

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

25 fresh clams
3 c water
2 oz pancetta, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1/2 c heavy cream

Directions

1. Combine clams and water in a medium stockpot.Cover and bring to a boil. Cook until clams have opened, 5 to 6 minutes. Discard any that don’t open.
2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the clams. Strain the broth through a fine sieve lined with a coffee filter, which should result in about 4 cups of liquid. You can always add a little more if you need it. When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from their shells and coarsely chop.
3. Clean the stockpot you used and put it back on the heat at medium. Add the pancetta and cook 3-4 minutes. Some fat should render out and coat the bottom of the pot. (If there isn’t enough, add a little bit of butter.) Toss in the onions and sweat them til translucent, another 3-4 minutes.

Potatoes & onions & pancetta! Oh my!

4. Add the liquid, potatoes, thyme and bay leaves into the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook til the potatoes are tender, roughly 8-10 minutes. (If you like a thicker chowder, you can mash some of the potatoes in the pot.)
5. Add in the clams and the cream: DO NOT BOIL. The cream will separate.  Cook for just another minute and season to taste.
6. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves and serve immediately.

Chow-dah!

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Belize 2012: Day Three – Adventurin’!

8 Mar

Finally! It’s climbin’ ruins day! Time to clamber over history…in a good way. We got up at a reasonable hour so we could have some breakfast. After a rather large breakfast the day before, I thought I’d go for something a little lighter. I had a look at the menu and decided on the continental breakfast: a fruit plate with toast, butter & jam. Seeing as I don’t generally eat all that much in the morning, especially earlier in the morning, this sounded about right. The waiter explained that each breakfast came with a fruit bowl – even the continental option. Did I still want the continental, he asked. Sure, I responded. No one else at the table was going to have as much fruit as I would, so I figured we could just share.

Our small fruit plates arrived, with pineapple, orange segments and bananas. Lovely way to start. As we sipped our coffee, the larger plates arrived one after the other: eggs with refried beans, pancakes and then mine. This was, without hyperbole, the largest plate of fruit for one in existence. Ever. None will be larger. It was filled with papaya, bananas, pineapple, kiwi, starfruit, oranges, apple slices, grapes…it was endless. I wish I had thought to bring my camera to breakfast so I could take a picture of the absurdly portioned plate; alas, my brain does not engage until I’ve had some coffee. By the time everyone was finished their breakfast, I was only halfway through. Don’t get me wrong: the fruit was fresh and delicious. No human could eat it all, though. Maybe a little less fruit, a little more toast. Live and learn.

My in-laws dropped us off at the hand-cranked ferry that takes you the short distance across the river and we began our long, steep, hot climb that would take us to Xunantunich. We were under the impression (okay..I was. J was totally right on this one) that you had to walk up the hill to get there – an impression that was shattered as several cars whizzed past us in all their air conditioned glory.

Just the beginning.

Fortunately for us, we have young legs and a lot of determination. We paused briefly to pay the inexpensive entrance fee and were mildly horrified to find out there was more hill to climb before reaching our final destination. The man in the booth looked amused at our horror and clarified that we only had a few more minutes of walking to do and sent us on our way. As unexpectedly tough as that initial walk was, it was completely worth it when we came around a corner and saw this:

Temple at Xunantunich.

Folks, it is a long way up there. Once you reach the summit, however, the view is absolutely breathtaking. It feels like you can see the entire country. It’s nothing but rolling green hills dotted with the occasional house. Spectacular.

The view from on high.

We hung out at the top of the temple for quite some time, soaking in the view and imagining what it would have been like to have lived as the Mayans had (what if you were a Mayan ruler afraid of heights?), we decided to make the trip back down. My friends, the descent was far more frightening than the ascent, I must tell you. Deciding that my life was more important than my dignity, I took a few of the steps on my butt. I think J found this a little ridiculous considering I’d been swinging my legs over the ledge at the top a few moments earlier…

We spent the rest of the day scrounging up some lunch of tamales stuffed with chicken, swimming at the infinity pool…and eating dinner. It’s a tough life on vacation. J and I both opted to have the black lentil soup with sausage and fry jack and the shrimp & fish combo served with a jalapeno cream sauce. To. Die. For:

After a long day of climbin’ and eatin’ we headed off to bed to dream of ancient civilizations and their fish. My dreams are a little weird.

Josh’s Delicious Thai Chicken Soup

13 Oct

The weather here in Toronto has been pretty spectacularly crappy the last couple of days.  It’s grey, it’s gloomy, it’s rainy: the kind of weather that makes you want to hunker down under a blanket with a big bowl of comfort food. Enter: Josh. He took a pic of this fantastic-looking soup and I knew I wanted to make it – that it was perfect for this kind of week. You can make the entire thing in about 20 minutes, including prep time.

Happily, he posted the recipe within a day or so and I made it last night.  I added shredded carrots, mushrooms and a little more hot sauce than it calls for, but that’s just me. The base recipe is great. You could also make it a vegetarian dish by substituting the chicken bouillon cubes for vegetable stock/cubes and not adding any protein.

Josh's Thai Chicken Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

425g (15 oz) tinned corn kernels, undrained
2 chicken stock (bouillon) cubes, crumbled
8 spring onions (scallions), sliced
1 tb finely chopped fresh ginger
500g (alb 2oz) skinless chicken breast, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 ts sweet chilli sauce
1 tb fish sauce
200g (7oz) fresh thin rice noodles
2 large handfuls cilantro leaves, chopped
2 ts grated lime zest
2 tb lime juice

Directions

1. Bring 1 litre of water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Add corn kernels and their juice, the stock cubes, spring onion and ginger, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute.
2. Add the chicken, sweet chilli sauce and fish sauce and simmer for 3 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
3. Meanwhile, put the noodles in a large bowl heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 5 minutes, or until softened. Separate gently and drain.
4. Add noodles, cilantro, lime zest and lime juice to the soup and serve immediately.

Comfort Food

10 Sep

Everyone’s got ’em. You know, those foods that you crave when you’re having one of THOSE days. Maybe they take you back to childhood or maybe they’re a more recent discovery; but, either way, they’re the foods that can make you literally sigh with relief.

For me, the list is fairly short: roasted chicken, soft chocolate chip cookies, matzoh ball or orange-ginger-lime soup, samosas, aaaaaaaaaaand….red wine.  No, it’s not food, but it’s verrah, verrah comforting after a long day. What all of these food(-like) items have in common is their ability to remove stress and replace it with happy memories. Even the making of these dishes can be therapeutic! A really good stress relief? Pounding cutlets with a pan or rolling pin. That feels goooooooooood.

How about you? What are your particular favourite comfort foods?

Orange-Ginger-Lime Soup

17 Aug

So comforting on cold days and super easy to make! Ingredients can be added or removed per your tastes. Whatever is in the fridge will work! (If you add mushrooms, though, put them in last. They shrivel up pretty quickly.)

Serves 4.

Ingredients

2 c orange juice
2 c chicken/vegetable stock
2 packages soba noodles
1 red/green/yellow pepper, sliced
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 cabbage, shredded
1/2 onion, sliced
12-16 shrimp, shelled
2 ts soy sauce
1 tb ginger, grated
1 lime
1 tb hot sauce (*less if you don’t like things too spicy)

Directions

1. Bring orange juice and broth to a boil.
2. Reduce heat to medium and add grated ginger and vegetables. Cook 2 minutes.
3. Add soy, juice of one lime and hot sauce. Taste and adjust if necessary. If it’s too spicy, add a little more oj.
4. Toss in shrimp and noodles. Cook 3 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and slurp away!

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