Saturday, 22 March 2014

Creamy Leek and Potato Seafood Chowder

Chunky Leek and Potato Seafood Chowder | Svelte Salivations

I got woken up early this Saturday morning by a parcel delivery. My bell makes a really loud angry buzz noise, and it startles me every time. It also makes me think that the person at the door is angry and impatient (but they're always just lovely, well mostly...), so I scramble to the door phone as fast as I can every time.

I'm in an upstairs flat in a building without lifts, so I feel bad for making the post man / courier man / delivery man walk all the way up just to give me my stuff. This means that I gotta go all the way down to get it.

In mah PJs.
Half asleep.
With real (non-sexy) bed hair.

So after the excursion down to the front of the building (with me running down because I worry that if I make them wait, they'll leave) and then back up again, I'm wide awake.

What do you do when you're up early on a weekend? 

I decided to head down to the local market, which I don't get to do during the weekdays. After walking around a couple of fruit and vegetable stores, and deciding that nothing was terribly exciting (as in exotic or at least uncommon), I picked up some cheap and fresh deals instead.

What caught my eye were some beautiful bright green firm leeks. I haven't had leek in a while, but it's one of my favourite vegetables. Inspired by the wintry gusts of wind this morning, I picked up some more winter vegetables (isn't it supposed to be spring already!?) to make a soup. Or a chowder, as it were. A seafood chowder, with fish and crabmeat.

Chopped winter vegetables for chowder | Svelte Salivations

While I love a good leek and potato soup on its own, I find adding some fish gives it another dimension. The only problem is that it significantly increases the price of this dish... #studentmoneyproblems

I popped into Tesco to have a look anyway, and found some kippers for £1.15 - i.e. £6.49 a kilo! Kippers are smoked fish (similar to smoked mackerel I think) but need to be cooked again before eating.

Kippers poached in milk | Svelte Salivations

The instructions on the packet say to boil them in the bag in boiling water for 15 minutes. I adjusted this in order to get maximum flavour out of the kipper into the chowder: I poached them out of the bag in some milk, and then reserved the milk for the chowder. My kippers also came with a knob of butter, which I chucked in as well, but that's probably optional. The smell of this cooking was incredible - smoky and fishy, but in the best way.

The rest of the chowder is pretty straight forward. The hardest part, to me, is the chopping. You gotta slice up the leeks (and wash them thoroughly to get all the sand out) into discs, dice the onion, and peel and cube the potatoes and carrots.

Then it'll all go into a pot and cook.

Pot of vegetables for chowder | Svelte Salivations

It looks like quite a lot here, and it is! The higher your vegetables to liquid ratio, the thicker, creamier, or chunkier your chowder will be.

There's not much to it after this. Just add stock, mash / blend (or don't), add your kipper infused smoky milk, and stir in your kipper bits.

As an added bonus, I added in a can of crabmeat. Because it's not really seafood chowder if you've only got fish - it's fish chowder.

Creamy Leek and Potato Seafood Chowder

I love crab, and canned crabmeat is a far cry from the real deal, but it's affordable, and convenient, so I use it. It's no good for dishes where crabmeat is supposed to the star, but in this chowder, it works brilliantly. You're not relying on the crabmeat for flavour, but texture, as it makes the chowder nice and thick and chunky, and really adds to it feeling like a filling meal (especially if you've blitzed the ritz out of the vegetables!)

This winter soup will warm you from the inside ;)

Full recipe -->

Creamy Leek and Potato Seafood Chowder | Svelte Salivations

A delightfully creamy and satisfying seafood chowder with leek and potatoes that's easy on the wallet

Makes 4 to 6 generous bowls. Chopping and washing takes 10 minutes, then cooking takes 40 minutes.

If you've got this:
  • 1 leek
  • 1 onion
  • 2 medium large potatoes
  • 3 carrots (to be honest, you can just adjust the quantities of these vegetables to your liking)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 300mL milk
  • 200g kippers (more if you like)
  • 1L fish stock, hot (I used 1L water and a Knorr fish stockpot)
  • 1 can crab meat, drained
Then you can make this:
  1. Peel and throw away any dry dark green bits of the leek. Then thickly slice the rest, both green and white parts. Rinse and wash well to remove any sand and dirt.
  2. Dice the onion. Peel and cube the carrots and potatoes. They don't have to be very small
  3. Heat up the butter in a deep pot on medium heat. When it starts to foam, add the leek and sauté.  Keep stirring the leek around for 5 minutes then add the onions. Stir all of it until it's softened, another 10 minutes.
  4. Add the potatoes and carrots to the pan and sauté for a minute then add the hot stock. Bring to a boil, cover then simmer on a low heat until the vegetables are all cooked, about 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, gently heat the milk in a small saucepan until simmering and then add in the kippers. Submerge in the milk and poach gently for 15 minutes (or according to package instructions). Take the kippers out and flake with a fork. Set the milk aside.
  6. When the vegetables are all softened, add milk, then scoop it all into a blender and blend to desired consistency. You can skip this step if you want a chunky chowder instead. Pour the blended chowder back into the pot to reheat.
  7. Stir in the chunks of kipper and crab meat.
  8. Ladle into bowls to serve!

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