The sun was shining, but it was really cold outside. Driving to the grocery store the steering wheel was like ice; I wished for fingers in my fingerless gloves. What will it be for dinner tonight? Something hot and creamy that will make my husband and I smile. A quick and easy oyster chowder can actually make us glad to live in the snow belt.
To make it just a little more special, we’ll add bacon and leek which gives a wonderful smokey, oniony flavor. I’ll grab a baguette and a bottle of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc to keep me company while I cook and then to go with the chowder when we sit down.
Velvety rich with potatoes, bacon and luscious oysters, eating this meal makes me feel kind of sorry for those poor souls from balmier climes. Really, it does.
It’s that easy: Leeks are grown in troughs of dirt and sand which finds its way into every nook and cranny of the plant. That’s why is so important to clean your leeks well before using them. Here’s how I do it. Trim off the root end and about 1/4 inch of the white base. Then, trim each of the darkest portions of the leaves down to the light green, tender part. Slice the leeks lengthwise down the center and rinse all the layers under cold running water to remove all dirt and sand, being careful to get in between the layers. Drain the leek on paper towels and you’re ready to slice and go.
- Prep time:
- Total time:
- 1 leek, white and pale green parts
- 2 red skin potatoes (3 if small), unpeeled
- 2 tablespoons parsley, plus 1 tablespoon
- 1-lb oysters
- 4 slices of bacon
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons flour
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of cayenne
- 3 cups half-and-half
- 2 cups bottled clam juice
- Oyster crackers or saltines as an accompaniment
- On a large cutting board, slice the leek thinly, dice the potato into 1/2-inch cubes and mince the parsley in separate piles. Strain and reserve the oyster liquor from the oysters and cut the oysters in half if larger than 1-inch.
- Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and cook the bacon until crispy, about 2 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate, crumble when cool and set aside.
- Add the butter to the hot pan along with the leeks and dried thyme. Sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, a few grinds of pepper and cayenne and stir it into the leeks. Cook for about 1 minute to cook off the raw taste of the flour. Add the half-and-half, clam juice and the oyster liquid, stirring until blended. Add the potato and bring the soup to a simmer. It will thicken. Reduce the heat and cook at a bare simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the oysters and 2 tablespoons parsley and cook for another 3 minutes, or until the oysters are cooked through. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper or cayenne if needed.
- Ladle the soup into heated bowls and garnish with the crumbled bacon and remaining tablespoon parsley. Serve with oyster crackers or saltines and hot sauce if you like it spicy.
In the glass: I can’t think of anything I’d rather drink with this comforting soup than a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc. With so many great bottles to choose from, it can be confusing, so ask your Heinen’s wine guy or gal for help if you’d like to try something new. For me, Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc always hits the sweet spot.