It would be a far cry from falsehood to say I enjoy soups and sauces more than the average cook.
Purees, broths, ramen, chili, everything à la king and, of course, traditional Newfoundland soups (which to my apparent shame I’ve only just recently mastered) are all filling, hearty and delicious in their own way.
Despite my apparent affinity for soups I wasn’t always good at them. On more than one occasion I would find myself crimson-faced in fury throwing entire batches of soup down the drain because there was just a little bit too much salt or the cream had scorched beyond repair.
Learning to clarify stocks for soup is typically a simple process but in culinary school I could never do it as fast or as well as my classmates.
Thus, my soft spot in the soup category has always been chowder. It’s everything that a good soup should be – rich, smooth, delicate and satisfying with a cornucopia of different flavours.
Coincidentally, I also think that those are all the qualities of a perfect girlfriend. Best of all, unlike the aforementioned perfect girlfriend, chowder is fairly easy, especially my all-time favourite:
Skipper Bursey’s Seafood Chowder
- 2 tbsp. butter or margarine
- 2 onions
- 4 cups water
- 6 cups 2% milk
- 4 celery stalks, diced
- 3 large potatoes, cubed
- 2 large carrots, diced
- ¾ cup flour
- 1 ½ cups skinned and cubed cod
- 1 ½ cups scallops
- 1 ½ imitation crab meat
- 4 tbsp. lemon juice
- ½ block of cream cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup Purity Lemon Cream Cracker crumbs
- Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat and sauté carrots, celery and onion for about six minutes or until onions begin darkening.
- Add water and potatoes and bring to a boil.
- Whisk milk into flour and microwave cream cheese for 40 seconds.
- Add remaining ingredients except lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Continue to cook on medium heat, stirring frequently for about 20 minutes or until cod begins to flake on a fork.
- Add lemon juice and season to taste.
- Microwave each bowl for 1 minute to caramelize a crust over the chowder, sprinkle on cracker crumbs for serving and garnish with a celery trimming.
I’ll be straight up. The above recipe is a variation of the first real soup I ever made, which didn’t happen until I had observed chowder being prepared in class only a few years ago.
I always avoided making soups and sauces at home before that point for fear of failure and this, I have no doubt, contributed to my difficulty with soups.
But if my culinary career has taught me anything, in this industry and perhaps in life, you have to fake it before you make it.
Confidence and capability in the kitchen come from two things: cockiness and time. Given enough time and positive attitude, despite countless failed attempts, anyone can master even the toughest foods.