After some sunny days,
I have promised to cook seafood chowder to Mr. B for a longest time (since last year I think). But I don´t have the motivation to make it at all. For me, the normal chowder can be a bit too thick and creamy. I much prefer something lighter, which I have found flipping through a brilliant cookbook by Charlie Trotter.
This particular recipe is largely based on vegetables. The creaminess and thickness come mainly from the roasted fennel puree not starch from potatoes or flour. Even before adding seafood, the chowder itself tastes wonderful. The vegetable is really the key to provide flavours here. And that is what I really love.
You may notice that my chowder is not traditionally white… The color here comes from the smoked paprika I substitute for bacon, and the roasted fennel. Nevertheless, I think it still looks quite appetizing. And well, we eat food for the taste first, right? 😛
If you want to adapt this recipe for vegetarian, simply omit the seafood and use rich vegetable stock instead of prawn stock. I bet the non-seafood version will also taste wonderful, too.
I am sending this chowder, which is full of vegetables, to Katiez who is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging this week. WHB is going strong and we are all looking forward to its second birthday celebration! For more info, please pay a visit to its founder´s blog, Kalyn´s Kitchen.
And now, time for the recipe…
Mussel, Prawn and Fennel Chowder
Adapted from Charlie Trotter´s recipe
Ingredients (for generous 4 serves)
2 fennel bulbs, top trimmed
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp smoked paprika
½ cup small-diced onion
2 cups small-dices peeled potatoes
1 cup small-diced celery
1 cup small-dices leek, white part only
1 cup small-diced fennel
Fennel puree (above)
2/3 to 1 cup heavy cream
30 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
20 medium prawns
1 lemon, to serve
Salt and pepper
Coarsely chopped fennel fronds, to garnish
- For the fennel puree: Wrap the fennel with all the herbs in foil. Place in 180C oven and roast for 2 hours. Let cool and discard the herbs. Chop the fennel into chunks, puree in food processor with milk (add a bit more water if necessary). Pass through a sieve. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Preparing the prawn stock: peeled and de-vein the prawn. Save all the head and shell. Place 1 tbp oil in a saucepan, sautee the shell and head until pink. Add in 1 1/2 cup water and a pinch of salt. Simmer for 15-20 mins to get the stock. Sieve the stock and discard the shell.
- Sautee the onion with some oil in a large saucepan. Add in 1 tbsp smoked paprika and potatoes over medium high heat for 5 mins. Lower heat to medium, add carrot, celery, leek and fennel. Cook for 5 mins. Add the fennel puree and heavy cream, cook for 5 mins longer. Then, add the prawn stock, mussel and prawn. Simmer for 5-7 mins or until prawns are just cooked. Discard any unopened mussels. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve the chowder in warm bowls, garnish with fennel fronds. Accompany with lemon juice and fresh bread.