What makes a chowder? Is a chowder a bisque? If all chowders are soups, are all soups chowders? Okay, that last question is a little silly, but I was on a roll. Let’s start with the obvious. Both chowders and bisques are soups that are thicker than a typical “soup”.
Bisques tend to be smooth, while chowders tend to be chunky. The word chowder comes from the French word for the cauldron in which fishermen made their stew. Chowder as it is known today originated as a shipboard dish, and was thickened with the use of hardtack (don’t ask – yucky stuff). Chowder was brought to North America with immigrants from England and France and seafarers more than 250 years ago. The popularity of chowder grew for two reasons – it is delicious and it is simple to prepare. The beauty of soups is that a soup can be a starter to a great evening, a light and filling lunch or satisfying supper. I adore a warm bowl of goodness such as a bowl of my Smokey New England Clam Chowder or an Awesome Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.
Nothing compares to a simple fire-side supper of warm bread, a glass of Chardonnay and a crisp salad such as my take on a Provencal Mixed Greens Salad. All that is needed now is the soft drops of rain or muffled silence snow falling.
Oregon Dungeness Crab and Corn Chowder
1 lb smoked bacon cut into ½ pieces
2-3 tablespoons butter
3 medium baking potatoes peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
1 large onion, chopped
3 ribs of celery, finely chopped
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
5 teaspoons OLD BAY Seasoning
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 large bay leaf
3 cups chicken broth
5 cups whole milk, half & half or a combination of both.
4-5 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 pound fresh Dungeness crab meat picked over to remove any pieces of shell or cartilage
Melt the butter in a large sauce pan or stock pot over medium heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook, stirring occasionally until bacon is fully cooked but not crisp.
Add potatoes, onion, celery, bell pepper, Old Bay Seasoning and the bay leaf. Continue cooking, stirring frequently until potatoes become tender. Once potatoes are tender, sprinkle the flour over all while stirring constantly for a couple of minutes.
Add the milk and chicken stock while continuing to stir. Bring to a boil then add the corn and crab. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-8 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and serve.
Happy Crabby Dining everyone!