Monday, October 1, 2012

Clam Chowder - One Of My Most Favorite Soups

Hello October!  Where is this year going?  Oh my.  It is Monday once again and I hope you all are having some lovely early fall weather.  It has been raining all day here in Nashville, but the leaves are starting to show signs of color changes which makes my heart happy.  The days have been somewhat cooler and the evenings have required a light sweater or jacket.  Yes, that is what I am talking about!  To me, this is the perfect time of year.  We don't have to bundle up yet, but we are also not baking in the hot, humid weather of summer.  Perfect.

I volunteered at the East Nashville CoOp Ministry today cooking lunch.  We made vegetable beef soup which was welcomed by all on this cool, rainy day.  Don't think I have lost my mind, that is NOT a picture of vegetable beef soup, but one of my all time favorites, clam chowder.  Yum.  Yum.  Yum.

Soup is something that I could eat every day, even on really hot days.  Soup is nutritious, delicious and you can make enough to enjoy for a second meal.   That way you don't have to cook something every time you turn around  - and that on one reason why soup is worth the effort!  It also tastes really, really good - even better the second time after all the flavors really meld together!  There are so many soups to enjoy, you could have a different one every week of the year.  Here is what you need for this clam chowder.

1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups peeled and diced potatoes (I may, or may not, put a few more potatoes in the pot)
chicken stock in a box
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup half and half (I use milk, works fine)
2 6.5 ounce cans minced clams, drain juice and save
1.5 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
1.5 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 bottle clam juice
2 TBSP flour

Before we go any further, I double this recipe so that we do have left overs.  Now, how to make the soup.

In a large pot, place all the veggies and pour the saved clam juice on top.  Add enough stock to barely cover the veggies.  Simmer over medium heat until the vegetables are almost tender, about 5-10 minutes.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and add 2 TBSP. flour to make a roux by stirring the flour into the butter and cooking until the raw flour taste is gone.  Add the half and half (or milk) slowly, continuing to stir.  Cook until smooth and thick without letting the soup boil.  Add the sauce to the vegetables, then add the clams, bottled clam juice, salt and pepper to taste.   Serve.

I topped our soup with some chopped chives from my herb garden.  You could also make some nice croutons to go on top of the soup if you wanted.  Croutons with parmesan or cheddar cheese would be even better.  There are no set rules with soup.  It can be like an artists canvas, create as you will.

As the days continue to get cooler, ramp up your soup recipe repertoire.  Soup is lovely to share with friends and family.  Take some to your neighbors, they will love you for it!

I keep clams in my pantry just in case I get a hankerin' for clam chowder.  (Hankerin' is a southern word requiring dropping of the "g").  Clam chowder is quick and easy to make and is so, so good. Serve it with a salad or sandwich and voila, you have one great meal.   Give this recipe a try the next time you are in the mood for some really tasty soup.  You will love it.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor. 
Marge Kennedy

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