When we’re in Maine, and the weather is cool and rainy, one of my favorite things to do is to make a hearty soup. We often accumulate leftover bits of various seafood dishes, and late summer means corn and potatoes and other good things: what better than to turn all that into a delicious New England chowder?
Unless I’m aiming for a more civilized stew or bisque of the oyster or lobster variety, I usually start with a rich-fat-and-onion base, sauteeing the onions in bacon, bacon drippings, or butter, until they are nicely browned and flavorful. I then add diced potatoes, and whatever fish bits I have on hand: this time, it was leftover lobster meat from a weekend cookout with the neighbors, and some of Paul’s famous baked haddock (more on this soon) from the night before. I let the meat and potatoes cook in the onions (finely chopped celery would also be appropriate, if you have it on hand—I didn’t) until they have had enough time to take on the lovely flavors of butter, bacon, and onion (and celery). I then added some cream that was about to spoil, and, to thicken things up a bit, some milk with corn starch or flour mixed up in. This time I also threw in some leftover mashed potatoes as a thickener, and to help clean out the fridge. Salt and pepper to taste, or paprika if your spice rack down’t disappoint you, as mine did; and some corn, frozen or cut off the cob, to offer a little sweetness and color.
If you’re using lobster meat, you’ll get a lovely orangey-pink hue to everything when you add the milk/cream, a beautiful sight. Simply simmer this baby until the potatoes are cooked, tasting and stirring and adjusting flavors as needed. Serve with oyster crackers or a nice thick slab of bread and butter, and you’ve got yourself the perfect lunch for a rainy fall day. Speaking of which, it’s time to sit down to mine!