I love making soups because it’s just so darn difficult to go wrong, and with a simple base, you can change the ingredients around and have something completely different. Soup is also inexpensive, satisfying, and you can make large batches to freeze for use on days when you don’t have time to cook. Soups are also a great way to sneak veggies to picky eaters, and you can make them light or heavy.
Right now, I’ve got a big pot of clam chowder simmering on my stove. Chowders are incredibly easy to make, and to adapt for personal taste. For instance, if you don’t like clams you could turn it into a shrimp, lobster, shellfish, or even corn chowder. With a clean and neutral flavor base, you can also change up the herbs and seasonings you use. Tonight’s chowder has a non-traditional mirepoix. Instead of using carrots, celery, and onions for it, I used carrots, onions, and fennel – which is a terrific replacement for celery. It has a licorice like flavor that I really love.
My clam chowder is pretty easy.
- I start with several slices of pepper bacon – and saute it in my soup pot until it is crispy.
- Next, I add chopped onion, fennel, and carrots, and saute them until they are soft.
- I turn my bacon and veggies into a roux, adding about 1/4 cup of flour (or sweet rice flour for gluten-free) for every 3 cups of stock I will add. I let the raw flour flavor cook off, stirring, for about two minutes.
- Then, I add gluten-free chicken stock. As I add the stock, I scrape my pan with my spoon to get all of the flavor that is sitting in the bottom in the form of browning on the pan.
- As the broth thickens and starts to simmer, I add cubed red potatoes (skin on) and give it a good stir.
- I add a little fresh cracked pepper and some thyme.
- I let the broth simmer until the potatoes are soft – about 10-15 minutes depending on the size.
- I add clams – either canned or fresh and stir them until they are cooked through – about five minutes for raw, or just a minute or two for cooked clams.
- I taste and add seasoning (salt, additional pepper if needed).
- I swirl in a little bit of cream (eliminate for dairy-free).
That’s it. Ten easy steps. You can change up veggies and herbs to your preference. You can add more vegetables for a chunky chowder, or less for a thinner one.