Filtering by Tag: soup

Not Gloppy Clam Chowder

I'm the granddaughter of a fisherman from Newfoundland - North America's easternmost crag; a weather-worn island that, once upon a time, teemed with cod. Cod and...well, not much else. It's so freakin' cold in Newfoundland that salt cod (dried and salted fish), potatoes, and cabbage were often the only thing on hand. No wonder the people there make such damn good soup - it's all you can do with such meager offerings. I'm lucky enough to have a soup master of a mother who taught me all secrets to making something out of nothin'. It's a thing in my family. Almost genetic, let's say.

Here in the bay, fish chowder is also a thing - a gloppy thing of the clam variety, beige and uniform and doled out to the foreign masses at Fisherman's Wharf.

Needless to say, as a product of Canada and a San Francisco Bay Area resident, I have some thoughts and feelings about clam chowder. Unfortunately, many tourists to our fair city eat this glop-in-a-bread bowl without knowing how incredibly SUBLIME a really good bowl of chowder can be.

That's why, when Airbnb asked me to host an authentic San Francisco experience for a bunch of travelers from around the world, I decided to make them some. And thus, the Canadian girl fed the weary travelers this nourishing potion, each precious element floating in a gold- and green-flecked broth, not at all homogeneous or beige, and it did not glop, and it did not gloop, and it was good. Amen.

Not Gloppy Newfie Clam Chowder

Ok, first things first: you're going to need some good fish stock. You can buy this from most fish mongers or nice grocery stores - just make sure it's made in house and fresh or frozen, not from a tetrapak. You can also make it:

Making Fish Stock:

Most fish counters will have bones available if you ask. The best ones are non-oily white fish - I usually use halibut, but cod and bass work too. Take your fish bones (you can use fish heads, too - but not gills) and rinse them well before cooking.

In a big pot, melt a half stick of butter and add 2 finely chopped leeks (make sure to rinse them well; they're gritty) and two finely chopped carrots. You can also use a few chopped celery stocks, or replace the leeks with onion. Stock is hella flexible like that :)

Cook the vegetables (this particular combo is called mirepoix in French and is the base of many a tasty thing) for 5-10 minutes, or until they start taking on a little color and are soft. Add your fish bones and sweat for another 5 minutes. Add a good lonnnnnng splash of white wine - probably at least a cup, and let everything come to a boil. Cover the bones with water and toss in some herbs - a few bay leaves, some parsley stems and leaves, some peppercorns, some thyme if you have it.

Bring to a simmer - not a boil. Boiling fish stock will make it cloudy and possibly a bit bitter. Let it simma' for about 45 minutes. Yep - that's it! Unlike chicken or beef broth, it doesn't have to cook for hours upon hours. When it's done, add salt to taste.

PRO TIP: If you put your pot a little off the burner, any weird stuff that's floated to the top will float to the side of the pot, making it easier to scoop it out and clarify everything.

Ok! Now that you're a fish stock expert...

The Soup

  • 2-3 pounds of clams - preferably littleneck - about 25 clams
  • 1/2 LB pork lardons (or chopped bacon)
  • dry white wine
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 head of celery, chopped into 1/4in pieces
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
  • two large potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • fish stock
  • 2 bottles of clam juice
  • Optional: 1 can baby clams
  • 1 cup cream
  • ~ 1 cup frozen or fresh corn
  • salt & pepper

First, wash and scrub your clams. Place in a big pot with 1/2 inch of water at the bottom and bring to a boil. Remove from heat after 3-4 minutes - clams should be open. Discard any dead ones that didn't open. Line a sieve with cheesecloth or a paper towel and drain clams over a bowl, saving juice and clams but leaving any gritty bits trapped in the paper towel (no one likes sandy food!). Set aside.

Heat a big pot over medium and throw in bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally until all of the fat has rendered out and the bits are dark golden brown. Remove half of the bacon and set aside. Add onion to pot and stir - splash with a bit of white wine to get brown bits off the bottom and keep things from burning. Continue cooking onion until soft. Add more wine - at least a cup - but save some for yourself to drink. Let it boil for a minute or two, and add celery, potatoes, thyme, and about 4-5 cups stock. Bring to a simmer and let cook until potatoes get soft (about 8 minutes).

Bring down to a low heat and add clams and clam juice (reserved from steaming and/or jarred), cream, corn, and salt to taste (you will likely need a fair amount). Cook gently for at least five minutes, but do not bring to a boil.

To serve: cut the top off a small sourdough round of bread and use your fingers to rip out its guts. Brush lightly with oil or melted butter and toast on low until it's kinda crunchy. Ladle soup into bread bowl and top with chopped chives and reserved crispy bacon. You can use parsley, too - I did! Enjoy.

This recipe is in honor of my Oppy, who I have to thank for this fish chowder and for my long skinny legs.

This recipe is in honor of my Oppy, who I have to thank for this fish chowder and for my long skinny legs.

Recipe: Dangmyeon Noodle Soup with Chickweed, Nasturtium, and Gomasio


I really want to tell you about these noodles. They are slippery but not slimy; silver gray and opalescent; perfectly round, chewy, and slurp-able. They are better than rice noodles. That's big.



I used a couple of neighborhood weeds in this soup - and they are quite pretty - but the noodles are the star. They are sweet potato vermicelli, also known as Korean glass noodles, and available at any Korean or Asian food market. I happen to have such a market in the neighborhood; if you don't, Amazon is your friend.

Dangmyeon noodles are most commonly used in a delicious stir fry dish called Japchae. If you'd like to try making it, check out this adorable video (thanks for sharing, mom). Like rice noodles, though, these are super adaptable to whatever you want to throw on them. In this case, I had some chicken stock brewing on the stove, some wilting chard in the fridge, a half an avocado, and some neighborhood weeds.

Dangmyeon Noodle Soup

Prep your toppings: I used a ragtag assortment of greens, but almost any veggie would be nice. In this case - quickly sauteed chard with some garlic and lime juice, Thai basil, chickweed (literally a weed that grows all over my neighborhood and tastes real nice), nasturtium for a peppery kick, some avocado, some gomasio (or furikake), and a few lime wedges. If you don't want to eat weeds or don't know where to find them, cilantro, green onions, and mint would all be nice. Same goes for other sauteed greens, carrots, roasted yams, corn...if you've got it, try it. No limits, I tell you!

Bring a pot of water to simmer and add an egg to boil After six minutes, remove and run under some cold water. Set aside.

Bring the water back to a boil and add a half bunch (handful) of dangmyeon noodles as well as a heavy pinch of salt. Boil for 1 minute, stir a bit to make sure they don't stick together, and cover to boil for another 6-7 minutes (or until they are soft and chewy). Remove, drain, and divide into bowls (or, you know, just put it all in your biggest single person bowl like I did).

Top with desired toppings, including the egg, which you will have cut in half and gently spooned out.

For the broth:

Bring chicken or vegetable stock (or water) to a boil and add some ginger chunks. Reduce heat and let simmer for at least 10 minutes.  Add a heaping spoonful of miso and a generous squirt of gochujang (Korean spicy fermented paste...sriracha is an acceptable substitute) and stir to combine. This broth is in no way authentic, it's just what I made that day.

Pour broth over eager ingredients and slurp loudly.

Recipe: The Last of the Gazpachos

Life in San Francisco sure does screw up one's sense of the seasons - so much so that I hosted a Supper Club celebrating the beginning of summer...

...a week after Labor Day.

It's consistently sunny and warm these days (as compared to August, when I had the foggiest and coldest birthday party of my life). In fact, the only way you can really tell what season it is around here is by what's ripe at the farmer's market. Luckily, while fall's deep gems are creeping their way into the rotation, there's still plenty of summer goodies to cook up for a dinner with friends. That's just what I did last week, when I started my dinner with friends with this vegan and nearly-raw soup. While it's quite a long process to put it together, the end result is quite transcendent - it tastes like everything bright and good about summer in San Francisco. 

NOTE: This recipe will put some serious miles on your blender. Don't worry too much about a thorough cleaning after each go - I just rinsed it out (it's all being mixed together eventually anyway!)

Golden Gazpacho w. Sriracha Granita & Basil Oil

adapted from Serious Eats by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

For soup:

  • 4 pounds very ripe yellow tomatoes, cored (I used a mix of super flavorful baby tomatoes and larger heirlooms)
  • One medium cucumber, peeled & seeded
  • 1/2 pound (about 1 medium) red onion, peeled
  • 1/2 pound (about 2 medium) yellow or orange bell peppers, cores removed
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 6 ounces (about 3 slices) white sandwich, French, or Italian bread, crusts removed and set aside (no sourdough or otherwise strongly-flavored bread, but GF should work)
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar (white or red wine vinegar will work too)

For granita:

  • One container (about 10oz) red cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • 2 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce (to taste)
  • 1 Tb tomato paste (if you don't have any, ketchup is acceptable - this is for color)

For basil oil:

  • 2 cups basil
  • 1 cup mild olive oil or grapeseed oil

Roughly chop tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and pepper into one-inch chunks. Combine with garlic and salt in a large bowl and toss to coat thoroughly. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, start on the granita:

Blend one container of red cherry tomatoes in the blender until reasonably liquidated.

In a pan, combine water, sugar, sriracha, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Using a fine mesh strainer, pour in the tomatoes. Stir to combine and transfer to a wide bowl or baking dish (a cake pan would work well). 

Put granita into the freezer. 

Back to the soup:

Drain accumulated veggie juices into a large bowl and add the bread. Transfer the drained vegetables to a rimmed baking sheet and place in freezer until vegetables are frozen, about 40 min.

When the soup veggies are frozen, remove them from the freezer. While you're in there, give the granita a brisk stir with a fork. You'll want to do this every 45 minutes or so from here on out so it doesn't become one big ice block. Allow the veggies to sit at room temperature until mostly thawed, about 30 minutes (another good time to stir the granita!). Transfer vegetables and all their juices from the pan to bowl with soaked bread.

Working in batches as necessary, blend vegetables, juice, and bread at high speed, slowly drizzling olive oil and sherry vinegar into blender as it blends. Strain soup through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Gazpacho can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

By now, the soup is done and your granita is workin' on becoming icy (keep stirring it every so often!). The only part left is the most delicious - basil oil! Using your blender once again, blend the basil & oil until it's pesto-ey. Pour into a small saucepan and let it infuse over very low heat for 30-40 minutes. Using a very fine mesh filter, cheesecloth, or a coffee filter, strain basil out and reserve oil.

If you'd like croutons, crumble the bread crust you reserved earlier and fry over medium heat in basil oil until golden.

To serve, use a fork to loosen flakes of the granita and top each bowl with a spoonful. Add a few elegant squirts of the oil and a pinch of the croutons. Enjoy right away, before the ice melts and summer is over!

<3 Sophie