Spicy Seafood Chowder

I know we’re approaching the dog days of the summer and one should be leaning away from hot soups, but I’ve been craving this chowder recipe for quite a while. To say that its good is an understatement. Its one of the few recipes I’ve made for others. Everyone lived so that should tell you something.

I haven’t made this since winter. That’s not because of the temperatures, although a rare day with highs below the nineties certainly helps.  Its because the price of scallops has been rather unreasonable… and no weekly specials.

Anyway, yesterday I took the what-the-hell attitude, bought the scallops and cooked this bad boy.

The original recipe comes from the September 2004 issue of Bon Appétit and was entitled Ann Pachett’s Spicy Seafood Chowder:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2-1/2 cups bottled clam juice
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1/4 cup orzo
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined
1/2 pound bay scallops, side muscles removed
2 6-ounce cans chopped clams
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-heat. Add onion, celery, and green pepper; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add basil, thyme, oregano, and dried crushed red pepper; sauté 1 minute. Stir in bottled clam juice and tomato sauce; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. (Broth can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Rewarm over low heat before continuing.)

Meanwhile, cook orzo in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Rinse under cold water until cool. Drain well.

Add shrimp and scallops to broth; simmer until shrimp are just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Stir in orzo and clams with juices; simmer until clams are just heated through.

Divide chowder among 4 bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

You can take this recipe pretty much as-is. However, I’ve made this often enough that I can offer a few shortcuts on measurements. For celery, one stalk will do. Go with two if you’re a celery fan. For green peppers, use 1/3 of a pepper. For onions, one small one works out fine. The only enhancements I’ll offer is I tend towards a wee bit more crushed red pepper and I break the shrimp in half after cleaning them so they are about the same size as the scallops (it creates an equal balance of scallop and shrimp bits).

As for guidance, I would get everything sliced, diced, etc. beforehand. It will make this go much faster. In this instance I cooked the orzo first, but you can just as well do it while the chowder is in it’s 30 minute cooking stage.

Cooking the shrimp and scollops is purely a visual thing for me. It might work out to three minutes, but I think it tends to be a bit more. I’d guess that from the shrimp and scallops to the clams and orzo is about 10 minutes.

Here’s the final presentation, although I forgot to add the parsley before snapping the picture.  Crusty bread is an absolute must as is a mighty fine beer (Bell’s).

p.s. On the top photo, let me make a couple of disclaimers for those who might treat what’s shown literarily. Pictured are 3, 8 oz. bottles of clam juice  and the recipe only calls for 20 oz. so only use half of the third bottle. I was out of the ~14 oz. cans of petite diced tomatoes and only had the 28 oz. can so I used about a two-thirds.

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~ by Genevieve on 2010.08.01.

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