A few days ago I was at my parents’ house around lunch time, and at their house lunch means soup. Usually canned, though mom makes homemade sometimes. That day was a canned day, and mom’s soup was New England clam chowder.
Damn, I used to love that stuff! But that was before I learned how badly my body reacts to starch (after years of doctors getting it wrong. Decades of getting it wrong), and especially to potatoes, so this wonderful soup is a no-no, at least as commercially prepared. Boo!
But this time my craving got serious, and so I started hunting around on the internet for a potato-free chowder that wasn’t just “make chowder and skip the potatoes” and… Is it even chowder without potatoes?
So as usual I took hints from a few and adapted to what I had on hand. And so is born my Chowderish.
- Your trusty stock pot
- A long handled wooden spoon
- A cutting board and your favorite cutting tool
- A liquid measuring cup and dry measuring spoons if you’re into precision
- A ladle for serving up the delicious
- 1/2 lb. of bacon, cut into lardons (this is easiest if you start with frozen bacon you’ve allowed to thaw for a few minutes
- 1 lb. frozen cod fillets, partially thawed and cut into bite sized cubes (again, only slight thawing makes the fish much easier to cut up, especially if you have dexterity issues.
- A 10 oz. can of whole clams, juice reserved
- Chives and dill to taste. I had dried only, that had been sitting in my mom’s cabinet for a long time, so I had to use lots
- About 2 cups of broth*
- Salt and white pepper to taste
- One pint of heavy cream
1. Heat up your pot and cook that bacon until it’s crispy. This is the only occasion when I’ll cook bacon over the stove instead of in the oven, because the high sides of the stock pot make grease splatter a non-issue!
2. Stir in about half the herbs you intend to use. Overall I used a good tablespoon of ancient dried chives and a little more of the ancient dried dill. Note: depending on your broth situation (see note below), you might also want to add some onion powder.
3. Stir in fish and clams and let them fry in the bacon grease for a few minutes. Don’t leave them for too long because the fish is going to simmer later and overcooked fish is a bummer. I let it go until it started sizzling again, since the partially frozen fish cooled off the mixture quite a bit. And when my dog went from interested to frantic at the smell XD
4. Add broth, the rest of your herbs and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and white pepper.
6. Stir in cream and heat through. Serve immediately. I garnished mine with some freeze dried dill if just bought to replace the old stuff.
The soup won’t be as thick as if you’d added potatoes, but it’s exceptionally flavorful and filling and I’m not going to be able to wait a whole year before making it again. I might add some arrowroot powder as a thickener next time, but then again I might not. It’s pretty good as is!
*Recipes I found all called for bottled clam juice or fish stock. I hadn’t either, so I used some of the same crazy portable chicken/ vegetable hybrid portable soup, which looks like a little piece of leather and smells rich and onion-y.
I tore off about an inch of this and rehydrated it in two cups of boiling water I’d combined with the juice from the can of clams. I tasted this and it still tasted mostly of chicken and onion, so I started adding some Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce) until it tasted sufficiently fishy. I probably used a tablespoon or so of that all told. The result was so good that I might never mess with fish stock again! At least as long as my giant bottle of Nam Pla holds out! But so anyway, if you do have clam juice or fish stock, you might need to add some onion powder to your mix of herbs when you dump those in. And if all you have is chicken broth or vegetable broth, I’m sure that will still produce a fine Chowderish. Or get creative! Maybe you live somewhere where you have access to kombu or dashi or bonito flakes. There are lots of ways to make broth taste fishy. I just happen to still have a giant bottle of Nam Pla from back when I lived in a city.
MACROS per serving (4 servings in recipe): Protein, 34g; net carbohydrate, 5; fat, 52g (calculated via Cronometer)