When Elizabeth, who had the audacity to run the Ragnar Relay for her first race last spring — and totally killed it — sent me this recipe, I breathed a little sigh of relief. No one had sent me a chowder recipe yet, but chowder remains the only kind of soup that Micah has ever specifically asked for. Could I really call it a SoupFest if there wasn’t any chowder? As I read Elizabeth’s insights into the recipe my relief turned to excitement. The words “changed my world” were used, as were “replace her family favorite.” But the kicker came when she said that her husband, who is known for having very high standards and discriminating tastes, liked it enough to take leftovers to work. This, despite an aversion to mushrooms! Ding ding ding ding! I think we may have a winner.
Before we delve into the specifics, let me be perfectly honest: I was a little intimidated by the recipe. It called for a few things I’ve never used before. Oysters, anyone? And let’s just say that I haven’t gotten any closer to wild rice than Uncle Ben will let me. I lost the staredown with the shrimp last time around, but was grateful for the opportunity to go back to the store and let those little critters know that I wasn’t afraid of them.
And the payoff was, in my opinion, totally worth it. As we were eating it, we thought we should probably be sitting in a home set on a cliff looking over the ocean as the fishermen pull in their daily catch. Micah wished the chowder was a little thicker — my roux didn’t thicken it as much as it should have, for some reason — but I had no complaints. Not a one.
Clam Chowder with Oysters, Shrimp, Wild Rice, and Mushrooms adapted from Julie Nierenberg
1 cup wild rice, uncooked, or 2 1/2 cups pre-cooked
4 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup cooking sherry or white wine (I used water)
3 (6 ounce) cans minced clams, drain and reserve liquid
1 can oysters, drain and reserve liquid
1/4 pound boiled shrimp, peeled and deveined
juice of 1/2 small lemon
2 medium onions, diced
8 ounces of mushrooms, thinly sliced (white button or mini portabellas)
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon white pepper or freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cream or half and half
3 bay leaves
salt to taste
Prepare wild rice by bringing 3 cups of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the rice, then cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until tender but not falling apart. Drain excess water and set aside to cool. In a large Dutch oven, combine potatoes, chicken broth, all the reserved liquids from the clams and oysters, and lemon juice. Boil 20 minutes on low heat, covered.
While the potatoes are cooking, sauté the onions and mushrooms in butter and sherry or wine. Add flour to the onions and mushrooms and stir until smooth paste develops. Combine the sautéed mixture with the potatoes in the Dutch oven and stir until well mixed. Add pepper and bay leaves, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add clams, oysters, shrimp, cream or half and half, and pre-cooked wild rice. Stir and keep warm until time to serve. Serve warm, not hot.
ps If anyone has another soup recipe to contribute, please do by sending me the recipe and any pertinent information at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, this concludes our SoupFest for the year. It has been so fun for me and I feel much better about my soup-ing skills. I appreciate your contributions.