Debbie Dance Uhrig
I would hate to try and figure out just how many seafood chowders/chaudrees I have created over the years. In French ‘chaudree’ means chowder, for those wondering about the name. Every year on Christmas Eve we have two family traditions: Pizza & Soup.
When I was growing up in Lewis County, Missouri mom would deliver Christmas baskets on Christmas Eve morning, which included a run to Canton, Missouri. On the way home she would pick up pizza at the local pizza shop for lunch. Back in those days we didn’t get out of school until the 23rd of December. Therefore the pizza lunch was a big deal, especially when you live in a town of 4-500 people! For as long as I can remember Christmas Eve was a soup supper. The ‘Dance’ side of the family gathered at our home and we had two different soups from which to choose. Usually when my grandparents were alive it always included oyster stew. There were meat and cheese platters, vegetables and dips and a very impressive dessert presentation.
To this day I have carried those two traditions into my own family. However we have switched the order, we have soup at noon and pizza at night. Just as long as we have those two meals it feels like everything is right. Traditions can be as simple as a special salad or a serving piece that has been handed down for generations.
I remember our son, Phillip, was either in 5th or 6th grade when he looked at me one day and said: ‘Mom, you know those gingerbread men we leave for Santa every year? Yes, I replied. Well, I don’t care for them at all.’ All those years I had religiously taken the time to roll and bake ‘perfect’ gingerbread men, on Christmas Eve. And to think he never liked them in the first place. What a hoot that was!!
Creamy seafood soups are probably one of my personal favorites. And like many of my readers, seldom is a recipe involved. This time, however I decided to record each step of the way, as I created. One of my favorite cheeses, Gouda, is included in this soup. There’s no reason why you couldn’t change it to white American, Farmer’s cheese or Havarti. The addition of the cream cheese is very important and should not be eliminated. I didn’t have it in the foundation and ended up adding it later. The cream cheese is the flavor the soup was missing.
Also when I first wrote the recipe I used 5 tablespoons of cornstarch and later I decided to pull back to only 4 tablespoons. It made the soup a little thicker than I desired. Why did I want to use cornstarch? For starters I only wanted to add about 1/2 cup of additional liquid because my pot was very full. Remember if you switch to flour you will need 8 tablespoons.
The soup turned out fantastic and I had enough to make containers for my mother in law and brother in law. During the holidays I like to prepare extra for my loved ones, particularly if it’s something I know they enjoy. I may cook for a living, but I still enjoy the ‘simplicity’ of Christmas day within my own home. Christmas Day ‘dinner’ was: Caesar Salad, twice baked potatoes, vegetable, tri-tip (pre-done), mushroom sauce and homemade bread. Dessert wasn’t really necessary as there was candy hanging around at every turn!
The seafood soup would be great for New Year’s Day with a few friends over to watch a game or two. The chowder may not be black eyed peas, but the flavor is definitely going to please.
May 2017 bring you positive changes, personal growth, and good health. Happy New Year! Simply yours, The Covered Dish. www.thecovereddish.com
Yields 12-14 cups
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large stalks celery, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter
3-4 medium potatoes, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dry bouillon, salt free*
4-4 1/2 cups warm water to dissolve bouillon
Ground white pepper, 2 teaspoons**
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon dry parsley flakes
3/4 teaspoon dry dill
2 cans small shrimp, 4 ounces each
2 cans lump crabmeat, 4 ounces each
Gouda Cheese, 6-8 ounces, shredded
4 ounces cream cheese, chunked
Heavy cream 2 cups
Milk, 4 cups 2%
2-3 additional tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup 2 % milk
Sauté’ celery and onion in 3 tablespoons of butter. Stir in potatoes towards the end, for about 3-5 additional minutes. Dilute salt free dry bouillon into warm water to dissolve. Pour into stock pot with celery, onion and potatoes. Cook until tender over medium heat.
Reduce heat and stir in the cream cheese and Gouda until it melts smoothly. Now add all spices and blend. Place the seafood, heavy cream and 4 cups of milk into the pot. If I can I like to use this as my ‘wait’ stage. This lets the seafood permeate the milk. At this time I would let this set for 30 minutes if possible. If not; proceed by gradually warming the entire soup over medium to medium low heat. You do not want to boil this soup! Add the additional 2-3 tablespoons of butter. When steam is rolling and soup isn’t boiling, whisk the cornstarch into the cold milk removing all lumps. Gradually pour into the heated soup to thicken. Reduce heat to low as soon as possible and monitor closely. Keeping in mind how fast milk based soups can be ruined.
*For test purposes Herb Ox, dry bouillon was used. It is salt free, but does contain msg. If you use regular bouillon I would not add salt until after you have tasted the soup.
**At the time of writing 2 teaspoons of ground white pepper were used. If the spice is brand new consider starting with one teaspoon and gradually adding.
Fresh shrimp and crab is not always readily available in the Midwest, particularly in many rural areas. By using canned everyone can easily prepare this delicious soup.