New England Clam Chowder

As soon as the last bit of snow melts I go through a bit of a Spring cleaning craze. I tear the house apart, organizing as I go, and put away our winter clothing in anticipation of warmer weather. The only problem is that every year, like clockwork, we have a late cold snap that makes me regret pulling out my tank tops and shorts. I thought I was in the clear this year, our weather has been unusually warm, but just before I left on my trip to Oklahoma things took a turn for the worst. The temperature dipped down in to the low 40s at night and I found myself regretting the fact that all my sweaters had been neatly boxed up and put away.

You would think that by now I would have learned, but no, I'm a bit stubborn in my hopes for warmer weather. It's one of the many things I've missed since moving up North.  So instead of burying myself under a mountain of blankets to keep warm I snuck into the kitchen and made a huge batch of chowder. I figured that it would warm me from the inside while insuring I didn't have to worry about cooking for a few days. I spent the rest of the week running around doing laundry like a mad woman and packing up the entire house to take with me on my two week trip to visit my family. My plan was a success and even better, by the time I returned home the weather had warmed up enough that I could get an early start on my summer tan.

While it's getting a little warm for chowder in many parts of the world, there really is never a wrong time to make chowder. My advice for those of you who facing an early summer, crank your air down low and enjoy some anyway. One bite and I promise you'll thank me, at least up until the point you get your electric bill.

New England Clam Chowder | Not Starving Yet

Ingredients


1 - 2 pieces applewood-smoked bacon, crumbled
3 - 4 red potatoes, diced
1 leek, diced
1 shallot, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon salted butter
1 Tablespoon bacon grease
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half & half or heavy cream
2 cans clams + juice, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
additional salt and black pepper, to taste
 

Directions

 

  • In a large pot cook bacon until crispy, set aside to cool. Add leek, shallot, garlic, and butter to the bacon grease left in the pot. Cook vegetables over low heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 minutes or until the leek has softened. Do not allow the shallots to brown.
  • In a separate pot add potatoes and cover with cold water. Cook over high heat for approximately 10 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Once cooked transfer the potatoes to a colander and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process. Allow cooled potatoes to drain and set aside for later.
  • Add flour to the cooked vegetables and stir until everything is well coated. If there is still bacon grease left in the pot add additional flour as needed until it has been soaked up by the flour.
  • Add half & half or heavy cream, clams and juice, then bring the contents of the pot to a simmer. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 minutes or until the soup has thickened. Turn off the heat, add the cooked potatoes, additional salt and pepper, to taste, then allow then soup to rest for an hour before rewarming and serving.
  • Optional: top with crumbled bacon and oyster crackers before serving.
     

Notes

 


Make sure you don't skip the resting period for this soup, it allows the potatoes time to soak up the flavor from the clams. For best results you can make this soup a day ahead of time, then rewarm it before serving.

 

Chicken Soup with Stars

This is one of those simple recipes that is guaranteed to make you feel better, no matter what ails you. Whether you're sick, tired, sick of being tired, tired of being sick, or just love a good bowl of soup—this is the recipe for you. It's not a miracle cure, but it's pretty darn close. You can make your broth from scratch or cheat a little and buy it at the store. No matter how you make it it turns out perfect every single time. If you have any left over it freezes well, so makes sure to keep some on hand for last minute company or when you don't feel like cooking.

Chicken Soup with Stars

Chicken Soup with Stars
makes approximately 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients

2-3 chicken leg quarters
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup baby carrots, sliced
1 cup celery, diced
32-64oz chicken broth (see notes)
7oz star pasta, either pastilla or stelline (see notes)
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Add chicken leg quarters, onions, carrots, celery, and 32 ounces of chicken broth to the crockpot, set to high, and cook for 3-4 hours or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
  • Remove the cooked chicken and allow it to cool before shredding the meat. Return shredded chicken to the crockpot.
  • On the stove partially cook your star pasta. Since cooking time on the various shapes is different, cook your pasta for half the time stated on the package, drain, and add it to the crockpot to finish cooking.
  • Allow the soup to cook for an additional 30 - 60 minutes, or until the pasta has cooked completely and the carrots are no longer crunchy. Cooking time varies greatly between models of crockpot, so I suggest checking the soup periodically during the final step so you don't overcook the pasta.
  • Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, as well as additional chicken broth as necessary (up to 32 ounces.) The partially cooked star pasta soaks up a lot of the broth while cooking, infusing it with flavor. Add the amount of broth you feel is necessary, you may not want to use the full 32 ounces.

Notes

This recipes calls for store bought broth because it's convenient, but I highly recommend making your own if you have the time. It's a fairly simple although somewhat time consuming process, however the results are definitely worth it.

To save time you can make this with leftover chicken, you'll need about 2 cups worth. I prefer to use chicken leg quarters as they're the least expensive cut of chicken sold in my area. I can usually pick them up for $0.49/lb where as a whole chicken usually runs about $1.19/lb.

This recipe is incredibly flexible, so add to it! Try adding fresh herbs or garlic to mix things up a bit. When it comes to chicken soup there is no wrong way.

Egg Drop Soup

Ahhh, Chinese food, I get hungry just thinking about you.  

If you couldn't tell, I'm a Chinese food addict and many of my favorite memories happen to coincide with a meal of Chinese takeout. I almost always start with a bowl of Egg Drop soup. When I was in college I was a Wednesday night regular at the Chinese buffet near school. I would sit around with friends studying for my 7pm graphic design class, stuffing myself silly and cramming for those pop quizzes Matt (my professor) was always fond of having. We had a lot of fun in those days, until the great ice storm of aught-six caused the roof to collapse. Sadly, they never reopened after that, but parts of the St. Louis area, including the University, were without power for several weeks due to the severity of the storm.

To this day I miss that restaurant, they had the best wait-staff I've ever encountered. They knew their regulars by name and always remembered what they preferred to drink. Before I managed to fill a plate my waitress had my drink of choice ready and waiting for me at the table. After my first few visits she didn't have to ask me what I wanted, she just knew.

That my friends is the sign of a good waitress.

My fond memories of Egg Drop soup actually go back quite a bit farther than my college days, all the way back to kindergarten. My teacher Mrs. K let us make it in class one day (it's a shame they don't let teachers do things like that anymore because that is one of my most vivid memories of school.) I don't remember why we were making it, but to 5 year old me it was absolutely fascinating to sit on the carpet watching her spoon long ribbons of egg into the pot. This is why it will be one of the first recipes I teach my son how to make. Since Chinese New Year is coming up later this month I thought I would share this comforting classic with you. It is especially tasty when you're sick or on a cold winter day when you need to warm up.

In other words, it is perfect for this unusually cold January weather we're having this year.

EggDropSoup.jpg

Egg Drop Soup
makes approximately 2-3 servings

Ingredients

2 large eggs
16 oz chicken stock
⅛ teaspoon ginger
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon salt (if you are using commercially prepared stock, omit this since it already has salt in it)

Garnish:

green onions
black pepper 

Directions

  • In a sauce pan combine chicken stock, ginger, white pepper and salt, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • While waiting for stock to boil, slice green onions and set aside. 
  • In a separate bowl, beat eggs until whites and yolks are well combines and set aside.
  • Once soup has begun to boil, turn heat to low. 

Don't add eggs while the broth is boiling, it will cause the ribbons to break up, leaving you with clumps of scrambled eggs instead.

  • Using a fork or slotted spoon, slowly drizzle egg into the broth making a circular motion above the pot.

If you are having trouble making the ribbons with a fork, try using a mesh strainer. It will allow the eggs to pass through slowly, ensuring your ribbons remain delicate. 

  • Garnish with black pepper and sliced green onions, then serve immediately.

This soup is best when served warm, as it cools the egg ribbons have a tendency to sink to the bottom.