RECIPE: Chicken and Sweetcorn Chowder
When I think of chowder I imagine the cold New England coastline and old village harbours nestling in its clefts. I think of grey seas, pebbled shores and weatherboard seafood shacks with oily fisherman at their counters, inhaling big bowls of hot soup.
This historical stretch of North West America, famed for its puritanical settlements, is the birthplace of chowder. With various explanations for the origin of the word ‘chowder’, claims to the French ‘chaudiere’ (cauldron) and the old English ‘chowter’ (fish seller) are not conclusive. The origins of the soup itself, however, belong aboard ships sailing between America and Europe. Big pots of potato, onion and fish stew were boiled and given to sailors to keep them fed, and when they settled in and around New England it evolved into chowder as we know it today.
Deeply warm and filling, the Tabasco and Worcestershire spiced soup is among my favourite soups to cook in winter. It keeps really well in the fridge and will satisfy even the hungriest of bellies.
Prep time: 30 minutes
1 small onion
1 celery stick
1/2 red capsicum
2 medium potatoes
1 litre water
150g plain flour
salt and pepper
leftover poached chicken (about 50g per person)
2 cups chopped spinach
4 cherry tomatoes
Dice the onion, carrot, celery and capsicum and sautee in a large saucepan, lid on, with a little olive oil over a medium heat. Once the vegetables are soft but not coloured add 1 litre of cold water and the bitesize chunks of potato.
In a separate saucepan melt the 75g of butter over a low heat and add the flour to make a roux. Stir constantly until the mixture resembles peanut butter in smell and colour.
By this point your vegetable stock will be boiling. Turn the stock pan down to low and remove about half the liquid. Pour that removed liquid, little by little, into the roux until it becomes a smooth, thick sauce. Add that back into the stockpot and stir until the mixture is nice and thick.
Next, add in your chosen ingredients. I used shopped spinach, halved cherry tomatoes, sweetcorn and leftover chicken. Finally add in Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce to taste. Serve immediately.
Prawns instead of chicken
Clams, of course, if you want to create a traditional American chowder recipe.
A cold glass of Riesling.