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Cheater’s Crab/Lobster/Shrimp Seafood Corn Chowder and some chowder/bisque food history…

this was a delicious concoction!

We weren’t feeling well today and I wanted soup, but I didn’t feel like spending all day making one. I made this up at the last minute and was pretty impressed. I am usually a convenience food snob- I don’t really like ‘quick’ meals or ‘ready made’ things, as a rule.

This soup has all SORTS of convenience foods I’d never usually eat: Canned and packaged soups, velveeta (which the guys keep in the cupboard for their favorite football season queso dip that I detest)… but it turned out so well, even I was shocked.

Everyone agreed that this was a keeper.

I am ADDICTED to chowders and bisques! The history of both types of soups is quite interesting. Chowder is an older soup, originating from the peasant fishermen in Europe.

From What’s Cooking America:

Chowder has its roots in the Latin word calderia, which originally meant a place for warming things, and later came to mean cooking pot. The word calderiaalso gave us cauldron, and in French became chaudiere. It is also thought to come from the old English word jowter (a fish peddler).

A simple dish of chowder, in the past considered to be “poor man’s food,” has a history that is centuries old. Vegetables or fish stewed in a cauldron thus became known as chowder in English-speaking nations, a corruption of the name of the pot or kettle in which they were cooked. Different kinds of fish stews exist in almost every sea-bound country in the world.

Fish chowders were the forerunners of clam chowder. The chowders originally made by the early settlers differed from other fish soups because they used salt pork and ship’s biscuits. Today most chowders do not include biscuits, but generally have crackers sprinkled on top. The old-fashioned chowder builder made chowder out of just about everything that flew, swam, or grew in the garden. When the main ingredient is fish or shellfish it is usually called chowder although the term fish stew is also used. Clams, hard or soft, were just one variety of seafood used and were eaten frequently, but there was a certain season for clam chowder and certainly there were other occasions when clam chowder was definitely not served.”

Bisque soups, on the other hand, didn’t seem to appear until sometime in the 17th century:

Bisque first surfaces in the 17th century. Culinary evidence confirms early bisque recipes did indeed include pulverized shells of the featured crustacean. Bisque descended from pottage, a thick soupy mixture often consistent with puree. Most early recipes call for “crayfish,” which denotes what we Americans currently know as “rock lobster.” Notes here.

“Bisque is a thick rich soup, usually containing crustaceans such as lobsters, crabs, and crayfish. The word was originally borrowed into English from French as bisk in the mid-seventeenth century, at which time it still retained an early application, since lost, to soup made from poultry or game birds, particularly pigeons’. It is not clear where the word came from, although some have linked it with the Spanish province of Biscay.”
—An A-Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 29-30)

“Bisque. A rich soup of creamy consistency, especially of crayfish or lobster. An earlier use, for soups of game birds, has fallen into disusetude. Wine and/or cognac often enter into the recipes. When the word was first adopted from the French language, it came over as bisk’, and it thus appears in The Accomplisht Cook of Robert May (1685). His recipes, incidentally, illustrate the wider use of the term in his time. He gives two recipes for Bisk of Carp, both involving many ingredients and having plenty of solid matter in them. And his Bisk of Eggs sound even more surprising to modern ears.”
—Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidison [Oxford University Press:Oxfod] 1999 (p. 77)”

Both types of soups mean comfort food in my house. We love seafood chowders and bisques so much! Since I am half-Filipino, I prefer to eat them with rice.

CHEATER’S CRAB/LOBSTER/SHRIMP SEAFOOD CORN CHOWDER

  • 1 box Original Soupman Lobster Bisque
  • 1 can Campbell’s Cream of Shrimp soup
  • 1 package fake crab flakes, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely in food processor
  • 1/2 package mushrooms, chopped finely in food processor
  • 1/3 package velveeta queso blanco
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced (optional)
  • handful spinach, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • stick butter
  • salt and pepper
  • squirt sriracha
  • 1 soup can heavy cream
  • 2 soup cans whole milk
  • 1 can white corn
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with cold half and half (about 1 cup)
  • pinch nutmeg

Melt butter in bottom of a stock pan, add onions and mushrooms- sauté until soft. Add everything except the crab and the cornstarch dissolved in half and half and adjust to taste. Cook on medium-low until potatoes start to soften, then add the cornstarch mixture. Stir til thick. Stir in the crab meat and heat through. Serve.

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Dinner Tonight: Summer Pasta with Zucchini, Fresh Ricotta, and Wild Arugula- plus a Zuppa Toscana with Turkey Sausage and Turkey Bacon

the finished products

the finished products

Starting these recipes was a NIGHTMARE. Maisie is going through a horrible separation anxiety stage– I waited until she went down for her usual afternoon nap before starting to cook.  She is usually asleep for 1-3 hours after lunch, so I figured I had ample time to get dinner started.  SO wrong.  Not 10 minutes after I’d snuck away, I hear a piercing shriek from her pack n’ play… ah, the joys of motherhood!

ANYWAY, the same friend who sent the fresh ricotta idea, also sent this delicious looking recipe for a summer pasta.

Right now the basil growing in my garden is kinda skimpy.  I have a couple of varieties, which I started late in the season: sweet basil, cinnamon basil, and (I think) a Thai basil.

As fortune would have it, I DO have an abundance of wild arugula growing out of control in every nook and cranny of my yard- and I LOVE it for pestos and salads. This is the same arugula that I mentioned in an earlier post.  My mom smuggled it from Italy in her underwear (the seeds, not the plants). I am sure she probably violated a ton of laws, but now she has dementia, so they probably won’t throw her in the slammer.

I really love this variation of this plant more than the standard ones you find at the market. It has a sharper, cleaner ‘zing’ than the (legal) garden varieties you find commonly in the US. It also NEVER dies and never needs replanting. It’s as prolific as a dandelion, except easier to remove from the lawn and sidewalk.

More about this renegade version of arugula (also called ‘wall rocket’) here.

From this article on Wall Rocket:

“Unlike cultivated rocket, wall rocket is a perennial. The flavour is different, too: it has the spicy notes that salad rocket hints at, but they punch through with a powerful heat. By August, the leaves are so peppery they are best cooked for 30 seconds in boiling water, or a few chopped and added to a salad. I like the leaves torn on to a pizza just out of the oven as an alternative to chillies. The young leaves I like in warm salads with strong flavours – chorizo, parmesan or goat’s cheese; it also goes well with oily fish.”

this wild arugula was smuggled to America (by seed) about 14 yrs ago in my mother's underwear. It came from somewhere near Florence, Italy- where my cousin lives.

the renegade wild arugula was smuggled to America (by seed) about 14 yrs ago in my Filipino mother’s underwear. It came from somewhere near Florence, Italy- where my cousin lives.

At the local farmer’s market, while raiding my favorite Swiss baker’s stall for fresh quiches and Cannelés Bordelais, I was lucky enough to score some fresh zucchini (2 for a buck) from the next stand over. I had no idea then what I was going to do with zucchini, but it seemed like a good idea at the time to buy it. I am now so glad that I did.

gratuitous food porn shot of Cannelés Bordelais from Marianne at the Chalet Suisse Bakery here in SW Michigan.  They are one of maybe FIVE PLACES in the entire Midwest to even bake these morsels of sweet perfection- Eat your hearts out!

gratuitous food porn shot of Cannelés Bordelais from Marianne at the Chalet Suisse Bakery here in SW Michigan. They are one of maybe FIVE PLACES in the entire Midwest to even bake these morsels of sweet perfection-
Eat your hearts out!

When my son tasted the following recipe, he said: “Wow, this is like pesto and alfredo mixed together!”- it was!  I was very pleased with how this turned out.  The freshly made ricotta (I made a new batch this afternoon) really makes this dish. So creamy and garlicky and rich.

when I say I 'squish' the garlic, I mean I use the mortar and pestle- Filipino style

when I say I ‘squish’ the garlic, I mean I use the mortar and pestle- Filipino style

Summer Pasta with Zucchini, Fresh Ricotta, and Wild Arugula

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices (a mandoline works great for this)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, squished and chopped
  • 2 cups of wild arugula
  • 1 box of Ziti pasta
  • 8 ounces ricotta, about 1 cup (see earlier post for recipe)
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan, pecorino or a mixture, about 1 cup, plus more for serving
  1. Put a pot of water on to boil. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the onions in 3 tablespoons olive oil until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat as necessary to keep onions from browning. Add zucchini, season generously with salt and pepper, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until rather soft, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.

    sautéing the onions and zucchini

    sautéing the onions and zucchini

  2. Meanwhile, use a mortar and pestle to pound garlic, arugula and a little salt into a rough paste (or use a mini food processor). Stir in 3 tablespoons olive oil.
  3. Salt the pasta water well and put in the pasta, stirring. Boil per package instructions but make sure to keep pasta quite al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water.
  4. Add cooked pasta to zucchini in skillet and turn heat to medium-high. Add 1/2 cup cooking water, then the ricotta, crushed red pepper and lemon zest, stirring to distribute. Check seasoning and adjust. Cook for 1 minute more. Mixture should look creamy. Add a little more pasta water if necessary. Add the arugula paste and half the grated cheese and quickly stir to incorporate. Spoon pasta into warm soup plates and sprinkle with additional cheese. Serve immediately.

    aa

    YUM

I’ve been wanting to make a Zuppa Toscana for the longest time.  I am almost embarrassed to admit that the first one I ever tried was from the chain Olive Garden, but I loved it.  It’s probably the only thing on their menu I actually liked. We have a ton of Tuscan kale growing in the garden right now, which is a major ingredient in this soup. I am a kale freak- I like it juiced, fried, in soups, in salads (especially the raw vegan massaged kale salads- yum), you name it.

Kale fresh from my garden

Kale fresh from my garden

I don’t eat pork, so I had to substitute turkey Italian sausage and turkey bacon for the regular versions.

Jess’ Zuppa Toscana

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely diced
  • 2 Sweet Italian turkey sausages, chopped
  • 4 slices of turkey bacon, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, squished and chopped
  • 2 cups of tuscan/black/dinosaur kale, sliced/chopped
  • 3 Idaho potatoes, roughly chopped.
  • 2 boxes chicken stock
  • 1 quart water
  • Pinch of saffron (I used Persian saffron)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1. Add a little olive oil to a soup pot and use to fry the sausage and bacon, crumbling even further as you fry. Cook until well browned then drain any excess oil. Add garlic and onions and fry til soft.

2. Add the water, stock, pinch of saffron, and potatoes to the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the potatoes are tender (about 25 minutes). Add the kale. Cook for 10 minutes then stir-in the cream and season to taste.

3. Remove half of the soup to another large bowl. Puree half of the soup with an inversion blender. Return reserved soup to pot to combine.  Simmer for 5 minutes longer and then ladle into warmed soup bowls and serve.

Zuppa Toscana

Zuppa Toscana