Southwest Seafood Chowder
Photo: David Malosh
As a native New Englander, chef Steve Sicinski loves clam chowder but prefers making a healthier version with Southwestern flavors.
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1 Hour, 30 Minutes
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 large ancho chiles, seeded and torn into large pieces
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup 2-percent milk
- 1 dozen cherrystone clams, scrubbed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
- 1 package frozen corn kernels, thawed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
- 1 pound skinless halibut fillet, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 pound shelled and deveined medium shrimp
- Oyster crackers or crusty bread, for serving
- In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the yellow onion, garlic, ancho chiles and fennel seeds and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cook over moderate heat until the vegetables and anchos are very tender and the broth is slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. Stir in the milk.
- Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Strain the soup into a heatproof bowl and rinse out the pot.
- Add 1 cup of water to the pot along with the clams. Cover and cook over high heat until the clams open, about 8 minutes. Transfer the clams to a bowl and remove them from their shells; rinse to remove any grit. Chop the clams. Pour the clam cooking broth into a bowl and let the grit settle, then add the broth to the soup, stopping before you reach the grit at the bottom. Season the soup lightly with salt and pepper.
- Rinse out the pot and wipe dry. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot and heat until shimmering. Add the potatoes and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Stir in the red onion, celery, chopped fennel and corn. Add the paprika and cook over moderate heat, stirring until the celery is crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Add the soup and bring to a boil.
- Add the halibut, shrimp and chopped clams to the soup and simmer until the halibut is white and the shrimp are pink, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the soup in shallow bowls with oyster crackers or crusty bread.
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