Culinary Q

Q as in "cue" as in "to prompt." A recipe is only the beginning…

Delightful Summer Chowder!

Oh. My. God.  Or OMG for short.  🙂  However and whatever the exclamatory phrase, the chowder I made last night was totally amazingly delicious!

The impetus was about a cup each, give or take, of lobster meat and shelled but not yet chopped steamed clams and 6 cups of clam broth left over from a lobster and steamer feast in honor of (and held a few days earlier than) Steve’s birthday.

I went online and perused various clam, seafood, and corn chowder recipes and then decided to just wing it, using the basic steps as a guide.  In particular, I wanted to use the squash blossoms, kohlrabi, and Asian greens in my fridge and sensed that these ingredients would work well together.  I was right.  <grin>

the veggies in the raw

Green onion (bulbs were used for another recipe) carrots, Asian basil, Asian spinach, squash blossoms, kohlrabi, and corn. Missing are celery,fresh parsley and potatoes.

Here are the ingredients I used for this recipe:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups chopped green onion  – top of white and part green (no bulb)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped or diced
  • 1 cup diced carrot (2 medium/small)
  • 1 ½ cups thinly sliced/chopped peeled kohlrabi*
  • 1 ½ cup corn kernels
  • squash blossom bulbs (see photos, below)**
  • ½ tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup tight packed chopped Asian basil
  • 6 cups clam broth
  • 10 oz small sliced potato (2 cups)
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped lobster
  • 1/2 cup chopped clams
  • 12 squash blossoms, torn – stamen removed (bulb added above)**
  • 1-2 oz Asian spinach,  torn

** How to prepare squash blossoms:

blossom with stamen
Squash blossom with stamen still intact. Note: for some recipes, you should leave the blossom intact when removing the stamen.
Stamen removed
Before tearing each blossom into 3 or so pieces, removed the bulb at the bottom and add the bulbs to the soup in with the kohlrabi and corn.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot and saute the onions, celery and carrots for a few minutes.  Stir in the kohlrabi slices*, corn kernels, and blossom bulbs, then add the marjoram, parsley, and Asian basil.

Before the broth is added.

Before the broth is added.

  • *A note about the kohlrabi:  This is my first time cooking with kohlrabi and, even as I write this, I have yet to look up how to prepare them.  Since it seemed to me that the outer part seems it could be a bit tough, I trimmed off the outside before slicing up.  But, I’d do as you prefer as to the outer skin on or off.

Next, stir and cook the veggies for few more minutes, then add the clam broth and bring to a strong simmer.  Add the potato slices, half & half, and black pepper.

potatoes

Just the potatoes. I had a few leftover small red and yellow ones, so I used them up!

Let the chowder simmer on low for about 10 minutes to cook the potatoes and further meld flavors.  Just FYI – it was delicious even at this stage!  This would be fine to serve as is or with just additional veggies.

Once the potatoes are cooked through,  add the chopped lobster and clams.  A Note about chopping the clams.  First, they sure are NOT pretty!

chopped clam

Be sure not to cut through the belly! The rest of each clam can be chopped into as big or small pieces as desired.

Stir the chowder and let sit on very low for 5-10 minutes to do more of that flavor melding, then bring to almost a simmer and stir in the squash blossoms and Asian spinach.

Asian spinach, just rinsed, but before being torn.

Adding the blossoms and greens.

To end, let the chowder sit for 5 or so minutes over very low heat to wilt the spinach and blossoms, then serve and enjoy!

Ready to serve!

This was truly a wonderful chowder!  I served it with some multigrain bread and it made for quite the satisfying meal. And, that lobster and clam feast was the gift that kept on going, since we had this chowder on Steve’s actual birthday. 🙂

I bet you could use this recipe as a basis for a vegetarian corn and potato chowder. I would use a corn-based vegetable stock (just make it yourself by simmering leftover corn cobs, carrots, parsley and celery, etc.), unsweetened soy milk, saute with oil, and leave out the seafood.  What made this chowder so special was, I think, the combination of a light touch of marjoram and basil, the Asian spinach and, especially, the unique flavor of the squash blossoms.  You might also want to add something else – a touch of flour to thicken and maybe use part almond milk to give a touch of a buttery flavor…  Hmmm…..You know, some chunks of nicely ripe heirloom tomatoes would be a nice touch, too.

For those who eat dairy and seafood, feel free to ad lib with other veggies and seafoods!  As I pointed out to Steve when when I told him I was not going to use a specific recipe, I suspect all soups, stews, and chowders originated as a way to either use up or stretch what was on hand, with the fancy recipes and techniques coming later.

In any case – just have fun.  A little thought about how flavors might go together and some experimenting might result in the next favorite family, or even famous, recipe.

Oh, I of course must mention that the Asian basil, Asian spinach, green onions, and squash blossoms were from Flats Mentor Farm, the kohlrabi from Farmer Dave, and the corn from Kelly’s Farm – all available at the Wakefield Farmers Market.  Shop local and most important: Support your local farmers!

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This entry was posted on 08/01/2012 by in Seafood, Soup or Stew and tagged , , .
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