Calling All Chowder Hounds!

Bouillabaisse_Chowderland_Joe Keller Photography

Joe Keller Photography

A fun way to keep your social network going is to do a regular, once a month soup night or an impromptu Friday night potluck. Soups, stews, chowder, bouillabaisse are perfect choices for your gathering. Cookbook author, Brooke Dojny, has lots of mouthwatering ideas in her book, Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides & Salads to Match.

Chowder is as much an integral part of American culinary history as pumpkin pie and maple syrup. Dojny offers up classic recipes from around the country, which are all perfect ideas for entertaining. Two we especially like are Succotash Chowder with Tomatoes and Basil and American Bouillabaisse.

Succotash is a Native American dish made up of stewed beans and corn. “I found a version of succotash chowder in an old New England cookbook,” Dojny said. “Its headnote claiming that the recipe could be traced back more than 250 years in one Maine family. It’s still good today, especially with the addition of a bit of fresh tomato and basil to enliven the brew.”

Dojny presents an American version of the French fish soup, bouillabaisse, using lobsters, mussels and local fish. “Bouillabaisse is traditionally served topped with a garlic croute that is spread with rouille, a spicy red pepper mayonnaise, but I saw no real reason to go to the trouble of making a homemade may, especially now that we have ready access to sriracha, a Southeast Asia-style sauce, and smoked paprika,” Dojny said.

Sriracha is a type of hot sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, salt and sugar. It is widely available in supermarkets. Here is one of the recipes.

American Bouillabaisse with Garlic Toasts and Sriracha Rouille

Makes 6 servings

American Bouillabaisse

5 cups water
1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
2 (11/2-pound) live lobsters, rinsed
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 leeks, cleaned, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
¾ teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup dry white wine
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
24 mussels, scrubbed
1½ pounds haddock or other flaky white fish such as cod or sea bass, cut into 4-inch chunks
1 pound shelled and deveined large shrimp
¾ cup torn basil leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring the water to a boil in a large soup pot and add the salt. Add the lobsters, cover, and return to a boil. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat until the lobsters are bright red and fully cooked, 14 to 17 minutes. (Hard-shell lobsters will take the longer cooking time.) Use tongs to remove the lobsters to a bowl, leaving the cooking liquid in the pot.

Remove the claws and tails and set aside, rinse off most of the tomalley (green material) from the lobster bodies, and return the bodies to the pot. Return to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Strain through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl. Measure out 4 cups of broth, which will be tinted a pretty pale green from the lobster bodies. Meanwhile, pick out the lobster claw and tail meat and refrigerate. (This can be done up to 24 hours ahead.)

Heat the oil in a large heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and leeks and cook over medium heat until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, fennel, and saffron, and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes longer.

Add the wine, raise the heat to high, and boil briskly until the liquid is reduced by about half, about 4 minutes. Add the reserved lobster broth, tomatoes, and parsley, and cook over medium heat, uncovered, for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors. (This base can be made up to 24 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Reheat the base if necessary. Add the mussels and cook, covered, over medium heat until they begin to open, 4 to 8 minutes, depending on size. Add the fish and cook until it is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add the shrimp and remove the pot from the heat to finish cooking. Stir in the basil and season with pepper and additional salt if needed. The stew can sit for up to an hour at cool room temperature. Reheat gently.

Meanwhile, split the reserved lobster tails, remove the black intestinal veins, and cut the meat into 11/2-inch pieces. Slice the reserved claw meat in half horizontally to make double the number of claw shapes.

When ready to serve, gently reheat the lobster meat in a saucepan with a bit of the broth from the stew.

Ladle the stew into shallow bowls and distribute the lobster more or less evenly over the top. Top each portion with a garlic toast and pass the sriracha rouille (recipe follows) at the table to spread on the toasts and/or stir into the soup.

Sriracha Rouille

1 large garlic clove
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup prepared mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sriracha, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Coarsely chop the garlic with the salt, then use the flat side of the knife blade to mash the mixture into a paste. Combine the garlic and sale paste, mayonnaise, sriracha, and paprika in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Taste and add more sriracha if you want a seriously spicy sauce. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to blend the flavors. (The sauce will keep for up to about a week in the refrigerator.)

Reprinted with permission from Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides & Salads to Match by Brooke Dojny, © 2015 Storey Publishing, LLC.

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