Monday, February 8, 2010
One of the traditions at the high school where I used to teach was a Christmas staff pitch-in lunch. On one of the days leading up to Christmas break we'd all meet in a big room off of the library and and share some of our best dishes. Don't you just love a pitch-in?! It was at one of these pitch-in lunches that I was introduced to this Spicy Clam Chowder. It was my first year teaching at this high school, so I'd never before experienced the smorgasbord that the pitch-in offered. These people could cook! When the bell chimed after my third period class, a couple of the ladies from my department swung by my room and picked me up. We made our way down to the pitch-in. As we chose a table, I noticed a traffic jam forming at a certain point in the buffet line. Everyone seemed to be stopping in front of this one crock pot and ladling soup into their bowls. "Oh," one of my fellow teachers whispered, "I bet that's _______________'s clam chowder." I left the blank, because for the life of me, I cannot remember the name of the teacher that made this chowder. Clearly, it was a favorite at pitch-ins. The name-less cook had even taken the time to print copies of the recipe, which he'd placed beside the crock pot. I guess he was tired of writing it out. He must've have gotten a lot of requests. When my turn in line came, I ladled a little bit into my Styrofoam bowl. Just a little, because if you're like me, pitch-ins are strategic. I take tiny little portions of everything that I can fit onto my plate. I'm not picky and I want to try as many things as possible. I know...oink, oink! After returning to my seat and tasting the chowder, I saw what all of the fuss was about. It was love at first bite! You can bet that I left with a copy of that recipe. Since that day, I have copied the recipe into my "favorites" notebook. I've changed it a little here and there, but it's basically the same. I know that I altered the recipe to have a little less butter. Not that 2 sticks of butter doesn't taste good, but I really love this chowder and I didn't need the guilt. One stick of butter is enough to make me do my penance with a Jillian Michaels DVD. Still, I wish that I had the original recipe and could give credit to the author. We've moved 4 times since I obtained the formula for this fabulous soup and I'm not sure where I lost it along the way. I may have even tossed it out. I get on these organizing kicks from time to time. I can't stand clutter. I'm sure that it went something like this: Oh well, I've already re-copied all of these recipes to my notebook, I might as well throw them out.
I have made this Spicy Clam Chowder for parties and dinners and most recently the Super Bowl. It's always a hit!
I start by melting a stick of butter in my soup pot and tossing in a diced onion. Saute until the onion is tender.
While the onion sautes, assemble your spices. That's seasoned salt, basil, rosemary, cayenne pepper, black pepper (not pictured) and parsley.
Stir 1/2 cup of flour into the onion and butter with your spices.
Now whisk in 3 cups of milk. Add the milk gradually while whisking...you don't want flour lumps in your chowda. Gross!
You need carrots and potatoes too. I was so excited that I finally got to use the shredder attachment on my new KitchenAid Mixer. While the recipe only calls for 2-3 shredded carrots, I ended up shredding a whole bag. One, because I was having so much fun AND two, because my kids are crazy about shredded carrots. They were actually fighting over the carrots that I had shredded. I had to stop the mixer and intervene. I love it when I find a healthy snack that my kiddos like! Check out my shredder attachment in action...
Okay, so add in the carrots and potatoes...
and the minced clams. Don't drain em'! The original recipe called for 6 cans of minced clams. Usually I add all 6, but when I was shopping for the clams, I realized that I was getting awfully close to budget on my shopping trip (the clams were in the last 4 aisles of the store) and I started to cut some corners. I figured that no one would miss that extra 6.5 oz., so I only added 5 cans. Once the veggies and clams are stirred in, bring the chowder up to a boil. You'll want to stir it often, because milk based soups tend to stick to the bottom of the pot. Once you've achieved a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for an hour. Don't forget to stir from time to time!
Before serving, stir in a cup of sour cream and heat through.
I wish that I'd gotten a prettier picture of this chowder to really do it justice. I was racing around, getting ready for our Super Bowl party guests, and completely forgot to get a picture until after the first guests arrived. I just pulled up a ladle-full and snapped a shot. If you're un-impressed with the picture, but you like clam chowder and don't mind little bit o' heat, then try this! You will not be disappointed!
I'm away from home and of course I left the notebook with my favorite recipes behind. I'm pretty sure that I have this correct from memory. Lord knows, I've made it enough! I'll double check when I return next week.
Spicy Clam Chowder
1/2 cup butter
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 t. seasoned salt
1 t. basil
1 t. rosemary
1 t. black pepper
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
3 cups milk
2-3 carrots, shredded
2-3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
5-6 cans minced clams, undrained
1 cup sour cream
Melt butter in soup pot. Add onions and saute until tender. Stir in flour and spices. Add in milk gradually while whisking to keep mixture smooth. Add in potatoes, carrots, and clams. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring often. Stir in sour cream. Heat through. Serve.
To download or print this recipe click here!