meta name="p:domain_verify" content="8b08da541f8a920e6 Marie Z Johnston: Seafood Chowder

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Seafood Chowder

Cold weather and snow have arrived in Paris. All I can think about is comforting foods that fill my kitchen with good smells, warm you up from head to toe and don’t take all day to make. Sure, France is full of satisfying dishes that take hours of simmering on the stove, and I like some of them a lot, but that’s not what I have in mind. 

Beautiful live Scallops with Roe
The ocean is closer that you would imagine standing in front of Notre Dame, as a result the fresh seafood in Paris is varied, abundant and seasonal. It’s about 200 kilometers (120 miles) from the heart of Paris to the English channel and about 400 kilometers to the Atlantic coast.

Live Cockles, a great substitute for clams
Live shrimp, crab, lobster, sea urchins, cockles, mussels and scallops are just a small part of the daily selection beautifully displayed by (not one or two but up to five) seafood vendors at my neighborhood outdoor markets. What amazes me is that it all seems to vanish by 1:30 pm (13:30 French time), there is virtually nothing left of the previous nights catch for the mongers to pack up. Judging by the earlier lines, I shouldn’t be surprised.

Quickly vanishing seafood display
The other morning my friend and I bopped up the street and hit the Wednesday market... I bought some shell on shrimp, cockles, scallops and firm white fish. Then we stopped by my favorite dairy vendor for some farm cream, the Bio vegetable stand for some onions, carrots, oak leaf lettuce and thyme and we zipped home to drop everything off. We had a full day ahead in Paris.
Wiggly live Atlantic shrimp
By 5pm it was dark, rainy and cold so when we arrived home a little later, it was great to be able to make such a delicious, comforting, satisfying dinner in under an hour. At the time all I was thinking about was making the soup and eating it, so unfortunately, there is  only one photo of the finished dish. I'll have to make it again in the next day or two (for the photos of course) though I can't imagine there will be any complaints.
Seafood Chowder ready to serve

The following recipe makes a satisfying dinner for 4 hungry people. Serve it with a bitter greens salad tossed in a lemony vinaigrette, a fresh baguette and a bottle of cold, crisp Sauvignon blanc.


1 yellow onion cut in thin slivers
2 smallish leeks, cleaned and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin rounds
2 garlic cloves, peeled & whole
4 small waxy potatoes, cubed
3 Tblspns unsalted butter (or olive oil if you prefer)
Salt, pepper and fresh thyme to taste
2 cups dry white wine
1 cup cream
1/2 lb raw (shell & head on) shrimp
1/2 lb bay scallops
1/2 lb cockles or clams
1/2 lb firm white fish fillet cut into 2 inch chunks
8 Whole pepper corns


Rinse then soak the clams in a bowl of cold water until you are ready to use them.

Rinse the shrimp really well. Peel & de-head the shrimp. Put the peels & heads and the 8 peppercorns in a 2 - 3 Qt pot. Add 2 Qts water and boil covered for about 20 - 30 minutes. Strain and set aside until needed.

Meanwhile, in a 6 Qt. soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions, leeks, potatoes, a few branches of thyme, some pepper and the garlic cloves. Do not cover. Stir until the onion is translucent and beginning to take on a little color.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine

Add the shrimp stock
Add the cream, stir well, let come to a simmer.

Add the cockles, fish, scallops and shrimp.

Stir well... let cook about 5 minutes or until the cockles barely open

Adjust seasoning to taste



PamelaArtsinSF said...

Now that sounds good! I want to roam the markets with you...and cook...and eat...

Zabie aka "Marie" said...

Anytime Pamela, anytime at all!
Marie Z

Darrell said...

It was a total success...thanks to YOUR help Zabie!! What a fun day w. you!

Zabie aka "Marie" said...

Thank you Darrell... Glad you liked it. Wish I'd done the same for dinner tonight! I had a blast with you too!