Seafood Chowder with a Greek Twist
This chowder could never pose as a Greek recipe, but I love it nonetheless, being a Yankee as well as a Greek! I add my touch to it, a little spritz of ouzo, which goes beautifully with both the seafood and the dairy. It’s a great main-course soup for a freezing winter day.
- Seafood chowder could
- 2 slices bacon diced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin Greek olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 1 carrot peeled and diced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- ½ cup clam juice
- 1/3 cup ouzo
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 russet potatoes peeled and diced
- 2 cups small clams soaked, scrubbed, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup cooked shelled mussels
- 1 cup small shrimp scallops or filleted 2/3-inch chunks of deboned monkfish or other firm-fleshed skinned fish
- Greek sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving 1 tablespoon excess fat in the pot. Set the bacon aside.
Heat the olive oil in the same pot over medium heat and cook the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic until soft, about 6 – 7 minutes, stirring. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Sprinkle in the flour and stir gently until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk, vegetable stock, clam juice and bay leaf, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Add the ouzo and cook until the alcohol steams off.
Stir in the potatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the clams and the chunks of fish if using. Simmer for 6 – 7 minutes, then add the remaining seafood (mussels and shrimp or scallops if using instead of the fish). Add the heavy cream and cook for another 6 – 7 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick, add more milk as needed until desired consistency is reached.
Serve immediately, garnished with crumbled bacon, if desired.