Clam Chowder with Bacon

Clam ChowderClam Chowder Anytime!

Bacon Clam Chowder just makes sense, doesn’t it?  I know this soup is most appreciated in the colder months of the year, but I just couldn’t resist.  Personally I could have it prepared like this anytime and still love it.  Also, there’s just something about putting a hot chili or creamy soup in a large toasted bread bowl that just screams, “Let’s Eat”!  So if you’ve got this on the menu when I sit down to eat, you know what I’m ordering.

This Clam Chowder, in my opinion, is much more flavorful than standard recipes.  The three most important ingredients in this soup that really make it pop are the onions, the clam juice and of course our beloved, Bacon.  These ingredients make the Clam Chowder unmistakably delicious.  It’s true, the only other vegetable I add are chopped Russet Potatoes, but I find the extra addition of Celery and Carrots aren’t necessary, in order to bring the full color and flavor of this recipe about.  Though you are more than welcome to add them if you’d like, it really doesn’t matter.  It’s just a personal preference, that’s all.  I think you could even get away with adding corn if you wanted to.

Clam Chowder Ingredients:

4 strips of bacon sliced into 1/4 pieces
1/2 Chopped Onion
1 tsp Sugar
2 tbsp Butter (Salted or Unsalted)
2 tbsp White Wine (Cooking Wine or Red Wine is fine)
1/2 cup Flour
2 cans of minced clams with juic
1 qt Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Chopped Russet Potatoes (or your favorite)
1 tbsp Black Pepper
Salt to taste
2 tbsp Fresh Chopped Parsley

Absolutely Babysit this soup.  It’s very temperamental, in my opinion.  On Medium High heat, cook your bacon and onions.  Season with a shake of black pepper and add the sugar to help caramelizing the onions.  Then add the butter and Cooking Wine.  Once that has melted, stir in the flour and almost immediately add the clams.  The cream will follow shortly after, a half cup at a time to start, then bring to a light boil, stir and add another half cup. Once half of the quart of cream has been added, you can add the rest all at once.  Stir really well, then taste it for seasoning, then add the pepper and your taste for salt.  Now the potatoes can go in and you can reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring frequently.  It’s very important to keep from burning the bottom.  Using a thicker pan will help this tremendously.  Once the potatoes are cooked, 10 to 15 minutes, add the parsley and serve your Clam Chowder in a bowl, cup or toasted bread bowl.

Lobster Bisque with Langostino Lobster Tails

Lobster Bisque with LangostinoThe Lobster Bisque Challenge!

Lobster Bisque isn’t over rated, but it is often over cooked.  You’ll find that most recipes use a ton of cream to define their soup recipe as a “bisque”, then hours of waiting time to reduce.  Is all of this really necessary?  I say Nay-nay!  I’ll prove it to you in this recipe I’ve developed that not only cuts your cooking time in half but knocks out 2/3 of the fat content because you don’t really need that much cream.  Even Bobby Flay’s Lobster Bisque recipe has 6 cups of Heavy Cream in it.  Crazy!  I use only 2 and I promise you it’s just as good and if not, even better.

Langostino Tail MeatIn this Lobster Bisque Recipe I’m going to be using Langostino Lobster.  I honestly prefer Squat Lobster if you have it available.  The benefits of each are the same but there are some differences.  First, the price is incredibly reasonable.  I bought 3 pounds of solid meat, not shell, for just 20 bucks!  The difference in my opinion is a sweeter, softer lobster tail meat when you are using Squat Lobster to make Lobster Bisque.  Don’t ask me why, it’s just that way.  Regardless of the reasons, they’re both very affordable and they both make a very impressive Lobster Bisque come to life.

Lobster Bisque Ingredients:

1 cup water
2 tsp Tomato Bouillon
6 Roma Tomatoes
2 Celery Stalks
1 Carrot
3 Garlic Cloves
1 Tbsp Chopped Ginger
3 Parsley Sprigs
3 Large Basil Leaves
3/4 cup Red Wine (sweet)

1 Onion
2 Tbsp Butter
1/3 cup Corn Starch
2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
2 lbs Langostino Lobster tails

Set the water and bouillon on medium heat on the stove.  Combine all the vegetables except for the onion in a food processor or blender and puree.  Then add mixture to the Tomato Stalk.  Chop onion and sauté until Caramelized, and then add the Corn Starch and Cream.  When the Cream thickens like a country gravy, add the seasoning and add all the onions and cream to the soup.  Chop half of the Langostino Lobster tails into small pieces and add to the Bisque.  Stir frequently and wait to reduce; 20 to 25 minutes.  It will burn the bottom if you’re not stirring!  Once it has reduced to your desired consistency, add remaining Lobster tails and serve.  If you are using large lobsters for this Lobster Bisque Recipe, all directions still apply, only adding the meat in increments isn’t necessary.

Zuppa Toscana

IMG_20131216_181734Loving Zuppa Toscana!

Zuppa Toscana is an Italian favorite in our home.  In fact anytime I’ve ever asked someone what their favorite Italian soup is, this is the one that’s mentioned almost every single time.  Of course when I say mentioned, I mean described.  The problem is, most of the people I’ve asked can remember what it tasted like but can’t ever seem to remember what it’s called.  I usually have to throw the suggestion out to them as they’re describing the contents of the soup before I get a firm and astounding, “YES, THAT’S IT, Zuppa Toscana”!

The origins of this soup are unknown to me.  Yes it’s Italian, at least as far as I know, but the truth is I don’t do enough research sometimes to deliver that kind of information.  All I want to know is that I’m making it close enough to the original and that people love it!  I love cooking, I love eating and I most certainly love authenticity.  What I don’t love is homework and history.  Some things intrigue me, yes, BUT I have a ton of other things I want to accomplish in my day, if you know what I mean.  Just give me the recipe and let’s eat already, right?  Of course right!  Here is my Zuppa Toscana recipe.

Zuppa Toscana Ingredients

1 lb Italian sausage
2 large Russet Potatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup bacon bits
2 garlic cloves minced
2 cups kale
2 quarts chicken stock
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp Italian Seasoning

Directions

1) Brown the sausage in a skillet
2) Warm the chicken stock in a pan more than twice the volume of the stock amount.
3) Cut and prepare all the vegetables.
4) Add all of the vegetables and cooked sausage to the stock.
5) Add the heavy whipping cream and seasoning.
6) Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, then cook for for 20 min.
7) Add the bacon, then serve.

Tip: If you don’t want the Kale to be soggy and you want it to have more texture with more nutrients, don’t add it until you are half way through the simmer cooking time.  Please watch the video below for a play by play instructional narration and visual, how to make Zuppa Toscana.