While there are many variations of a New England Clam Chowder, soups depend on the stock or broth one uses for the base. Here I have used a vegetable stock which I put together with some boquet garni, a few root vegetables like garlic, carrot, onion and celery with a tsp of salt. Bring it to a boil and simmer it for up to 3 hours.
Using fresh seafood makes it par excellence. Using frozen seafood is at best mediocre. Use a fish head if you wish, or fish bones to enhance the flavour especially if you are not using a variety of shell fish. Adding small pieces of lobster, crab whatever you find locally makes it exceptional.
There are so many options, add what you love best.
Melt in a pot
2 tbsp salted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium very finely chopped onion
pinch of brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp white pepper powder
1/4 cup of finely chopped smoked meat ( bacon, turkey, chorizzo )
Saute` this until it is lightly browned takes about 7 minutes
add a medium potato, peeled and diced
Add 4 cups good vegetable stock.
Bring it to a boil, cover, lower the flame and simmer for 40 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Once it is thick and consistency you desire, add any or all of the following.
Optionally add any or all of the following
1/4 cup ice brandy
1/4 cup cream at room temperature
1 large handful of fresh chopped mixed herbs
1 finely diced carrot
1 finely diced stick of celery
Bring all of this to a boil and add the seafood.
Preparing the seafoodWash and add 1 lb/500 gms mixed seafood of choice. Sprinkle them with a touch of salt and saffron. Freshly squeeze a lemon all over. Toss and keep aside. Fresh mussels, clams, shrimp, prawn etc. (Discarding any open shell fish); Keep only the firmly shut ones.
Once added to the boiling chowder, cover the lid and cook for up to 3 minutes until shellfish is done. Give the pot a good shake let it rest for 5 minutes and serve immediately for best results.
Eat only the open clams and mussles discarding the ones that are still closed.
Buy the shell fish on the day of use or leave overnight on a bed of ice in the refrigerator.
Only wash and remove the beards with a scissors a few minutes prior to cooking. Do not leave aside for more than 5 minutes without an ice bath, The mussels and clams will start opening up in the warmth of the kitchen and will need to be discarded. Beards are the thread like structures that are often found stuck in the shell.
Ice brandy is a white clear brandy available in any liquor store. Optionally use white rum or some sherry or even gin.
White Pepper is the perfect accompaniment of a chowder and enhances the flavours.
You can serve black pepper at the table.
Slices of crisp or garlic bread may be enjoyed to dunk into the chowder.
For recipes from the Parsi Food repertoire click The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine