Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's Hot Out - Let's Have Soup!

In between my freshman and sophomore years at college, one of my roommates invited some of us to go sailing in Casco Bay here in Maine.  Another roommate and I traveled up and we spent the next few days motoring around the bay in a sailboat under cloudy cold skies.  I should also say that both my roommate and I were intensely sea sick for that time as well.
Don’t get me wrong it was beautiful, but I was at that time unaccustomed to the fact that Maine can be 55° at midday during the summer.  It also was not very windy, which meant the “sailing” portion of our trip turned into using the diesel engine on the boat to slowly maneuver us around island (this engine was referred to as the ‘diesel donkey’).  Thus the seasickness I had was not of the “chumming for large sport fish” variety but a dull and constant nausea. 
Angry Lobster!
There were of course some wonderful experiences; stopping on an island and shell hunting, sleeping all together on the tiny galley table that pushed down to become a bed, and lastly stopping at a restaurant on the final day for some lobster bisque.  The lobster bisque was very tasty although I could only manage to swallow a few sips, again due to that lingering seasickness. 
Now, as I understand it lobster stew/bisque/chowder has basically 4 ingredients; broth, cream, butter, lobster.  And although this combination is very delicious, it is not the lightest meal to consume.  If the stew sits any longer than 30 seconds, the layer of butter separates to the top making a lovely orange shimmer along the surface of the bowl or pot. 
Since this summer has been decidedly un-Maine-like where it has actually been warm to hot even, the idea of consuming a large bowl of cream and butter didn’t sound that appetizing.  But, lobster prices are incredibly low right now, and Joe and I try to reserve tucking into whole steamed lobsters for when we have company, which lead me to thinking about lobster bisque.  So how should one go about making a lighter version of the traditional bisque? By adding vegetables of course! So the next time you feel like making soup during this incredibly hot summer, may I suggest a lovely Lobster Corn Chowder.

Lobster Corn Chowder
This recipe is really an amalgamation of recipes, but it is most closely related to the Williams Sonoma Lobster Corn Chowder

I had a bag of frozen lobster stock ready to go for this dish, but if you don’t I recommend using the one in the above recipe link.

2 1-1/4 pound lobsters
3 slices of bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1/4 c. white wine
4 cups lobster stock
1 lb. potatoes, diced (red skinned or fingerling)
3 ears fresh corn, shucked
2/3 c. heavy cream
3 scallions, sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered (optional)
Fresh chives, chopped
Hot sauce, optional

In a large pot place 2 inches of water, heavily salted. Place the lobsters in, cover and steam for about 7 minutes, or until the lobsters are bright red.  Remove lobsters from pot and set aside to cool.

Next, cut the corn off of the cob, and reserve both the cobs and the kernels.

In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, saut√© bacon to render the fat, add diced onion and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.  Add diced carrots and cook another 5 minutes.  Next add the white wine, and scrap off any brown bits on the bottom of the pan, simmer until the wine is mostly evaporated.  Add the lobster stock and corn cobs, bring to a boil.  Next add the potatoes, and the white part of the scallions, and cook for about 10 minutes.  Add the heavy cream, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Toss in corn kernels.  Continue cooking for another 10 minutes. 

Pull lobster meat from lobsters – knuckle and claw meat can be left intact, but chop tail meat into bite sized pieces.  Add lobster meat to the chowder.

Just before serving add in the remaining scallion greens.  Ladle into bowls and add chives and tomato quarters.  A dash or three of hot sauce in each bowl is a great addition right before eating – it will enhance the creaminess!

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