Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Day 26: Clam Chowder

I've been toying with this idea since I made curried mussels (week 1, day 5 or 6), and was even more excited once I found celeriac at the local produce stand. I was going to make this last week, but was a bit intimidated by the idea, so punted and made scallop and celeriac salad instead (stay tuned for that winning day 20 recipe!).

This week I decided to do it on a Monday (weeknight! late dinner alert!), but prepped my celeriac in advance, as the peeling seemed the most time consuming. Turns out, once that was done, the rest was quite easy. Total prep and cook time (other than the advance celeriac prep) was ~ 30 minutes. I was originally envisioning using coconut milk to give the chowder a creamy texture (no dairy during The Challenge), but after tasting the broth mid-simmer, I decided it wasn't necessary. The soup is as delicious, flavorful, and filling as any chowder I've had, with the big caveat that I almost never eat chowder because of the presumed caloric hit.

Bring a cup or so of water to boil. I added some celery fronds, too. Add clams (used 2 1/2 pounds large live clams), cover, and steam until the clams have opened. Mine only took 5 minutes. Strain the clams, reserving all of the broth. When the clams have cooled, remove from the shell and roughly chop, then stash them somewhere safe from George the Cat.

Brown 5 slices bacon, then add about a cup of chopped onions, some diced celery (a few stalks), and a few cloves of garlic, minced. Once all the veg are soft, add the reserved clam broth, some fresh thyme sprigs, a bay leaf, and the peeled and diced celeriac root (one large bulb). Simmer until the celeriac is tender, 15 - 20 minutes. (I then popped in the immersion blender to puree some of the veg; this isn't really necessary.) Divide the reserved clams into 4 bowls, and pour the soup over top. Top with diced green onions and fresh ground pepper (optional, but delicious).

I served this with a spinach salad with apples, walnuts, and a walnut oil vinaigrette for a very light and tasty meal.


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