Creole seafood chowder is one of those glorious accident soups that became a monster in my cookbook. It garnered cult status in many of the places I’ve served it. Sounds boastful, I admit, but there’s a story behind this one…
Many years ago, I owned and operated a modest lunch cafe with a soup and sandwich counter. Five days a week, I offered up three daily soups with a build-your-own sandwich menu. It is there where I honed my soup-making skills and built a good arsenal of recipes. From this fertile ground came the creole seafood chowder.
One day, pressed for a third soup to fill the menu, I took a bit of leftover clam chowder (not enough to run as a feature, but a good starter) and began to bolster its volume. I had a can of crab meat that was purchased on a whim, a few handfuls of shrimp stashed away in the freezer, so in they went.
Next came a small amount of tomato basil soup I had run a few days prior and a hastily diced red pepper. A few spoonfuls of cajun spice, and voilà! Sometimes, with having to create 15+ soups per week, the hard part is coming up with attractive names. Creole seafood chowder sounds appetizing enough……
I had created a monster, dear reader. Once that first bowl walked out the door, within minutes I had co-workers of that customer (and the customer themselves back for seconds) rolling in asking for it specifically. The two other soups didn’t even get acknowledged until it had run out.
I decided it would be good to rotate it through the menu at random; customers would often ask when I’d make it next, even requesting it be made under promise they’d show up for it. these are my customers; how dare I let them down, right?
So I started making it in batches for the sole purpose of selling it frozen by the litre. That went over like crazy. One afternoon, I had a regular customer ask when I’d make my next batch and could they reserve 6 litres of it in advance. Sure, I said. The guy standing behind her piped up that he’d love to reserve 6 litres for himself if he could; no worries. Each batch was 18 litres, so ⅔ of a batch just sold in advance; great! Then one of my other regulars called from his seat in the corner that he’d take the last ⅓ of the lot.
Sold! 18 litres of soup sold in advance in less than 5 minutes.
You see, my friends, this is why I nicknamed this the cult soup. It’s one of those “I’d best remember how I did this for next time” recipes.
Creole Seafood Chowder
- soup pot
Chop it up….
- 1 whole onion diced
- 1/2 bell pepper (you pick the color) diced
- 2 sticks celery diced
- 1 cup okra chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 whole chilies (or a jalapeño) chopped
- 2 medium potatoes diced
Stir it in….
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 Tbsp cajun spice
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- TT hot sauce your choice in brand and quantity
The main attractions…..
- 3 cups stock chicken, vegetable or fish
- 1 28oz tin diced or crushed tomato
- 8 oz shrimp peeled and tails removed
- 8 oz crab meat
- 1 12oz tin clams with nectar
- 1 cup heavy cream
Chop it up….
- Dice and chop all the members of this section. Don't be afraid to pile them all together; theyre all going in the pot at pretty much the same time.
- Heat up a medium-large soup pot, toss in the butter. Once it melts, add the salt and pepper.
- Drop all your chopped veg in and stir until the butter coats it all and starts to brown up a bit.
Stir it in…..
- Stir in the flour and the rest of the members of this section, leaving the lemon juice til last; it'll help deglaze the bottom of the pot a bit.
- Once the flour starts to turn a golden brown…..
The main attractions…
- Pour in the tomatoes and stock, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pot, pulling all that flavor and binder back into the broth.
- Once it hits a boil, pour in the clams, nectar and all. This will drop the temperature enough for you to drop in the crab meat. Stir it all in.
- Next, put the shrimp in and stir it in well; turn the heat under the pot down to a low-medium heat and let it ride for about 15 minutes at a gentle boil.
- Lastly, stir in the cream and kill the heat. Let stand for a few minutes and serve it up.