Simple Pleasures: Soup
At least until last week – Lady Summer finally gave up the dance floor to autumn. Our first rain since last May – cool and quiet and the ground drank it all up so gratefully (as did my scorched landscaping).
It was just right the right season for soup. The first soup of autumn.
It was his idea. He wanted “chowdah.” He did all the shopping and the planning and man, did he look sexy standing there at my stove.
Something about the cooler weather brings a need to commune in the kitchen over slow food. Simple food – there is nothing so simple as soup – but slow. Worth the wait. While he prepared, we talked. He at the stove, I at the table, the boys next to me, doing homework, or popping in and out as the racecars and spaceships flew through our galley.
And then to sit down together, with the darkening sky outside our kitchen window, hands held, boyish faces wreathed in steam and a toddler’s chirp of grace.
Gabe’s Seafood Chowdah
Adapted from Crab-and-Corn Chowder with Bacon and Chanterelle Mushrooms
4 cups frozen yellow corn
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
3 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
7 bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups finely chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 medium)
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 3/4 pounds white-skinned potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
6 ounces fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced (just pick whichever looks interesting in the grocer’s case)
2 tablespoons dry Sherry
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 pound whitefish (we used tilapia) cut into bit-sized chunks
Several handfuls of shrimp
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Combine corn, broth, and cream in heavy large saucepan. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon and sauté until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons pan drippings; add onion, leeks, celery, and fennel seeds to pot. Sauté until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in potatoes. Combine with cream mixture. Simmer until potatoes are almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in corn kernels. Simmer chowder until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in sherry and thyme. Add mushroom mixture to chowder. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Saute whitefish and shrimp until opaque and add to soup. Simmer until heated through. Serve with a garnish of fresh parsley.