Having a well-stocked pantry is the key to making many meals on the spur of the moment. Have a craving for a certain dish or want to experiment? A well-stocked pantry can allow you to satisfy both needs without a special trip to the grocery store or specialty store. So, not surprisingly, the well-stocked pantry can also save you money and time. By pantry, I mean more than one’s dry storage, but also the freezer and the refrigerator. I try to keep all well stocked with gfe staples. I’m going to address this topic more in 2011 as I revisit the whole gfe approach, but I wanted to show you how my pantry served me well when I suddenly wanted clam chowder the other night.
As all of you gluten-free readers know, clam chowder is not something we can enjoy out very often. Usually a “gluten-full” flour is added to the recipe or a gluten-containing broth is used to make the chowder. I love clam chowder, and really chowders of any kind, so that’s always a disappointment to me. Because of lack of training of servers and cross contamination issues, one has to be very leery of establishments that serve even gluten-free chowder. (Wendy (Celiacs in the House), Diane (The W.H.O.L.E. Gang), and I watched servers touching the soup ladles to bread bowls as they served chowder at a restaurant at Pike Place Market in Seattle. It only took one such occurrence for the entire bowl of chowder to be contaminated and unsafe for those of us who eat gluten free.)
So I decided to make my own New England Clam Chowder, and I came up with a wonderfully easy way to have thick, creamy version in just a few minutes! It didn’t taste like a soup that had been made in a few minutes though; it tasted like it had been cooking and thickening—and frankly, “becoming soup”— for hours. That’s important because I’ve actually made seafood chowder before using popular chef’s recipes and even after cooking the soup for a much longer time, it still had that “new,” “not soup yet” taste without the creamy, thick consistency I desired.
New England Clam Chowder is by definition a potato-based soup. The Baked Potato Soup here at gfe is a favorite of our family and our friends, so I decided to just adapt that recipe to be my New England Clam Chowder. It was incredibly easy to do and the resulting chowder was a hit with us. Like I said, my pantry came through for me. In my dry goods pantry, I had canned clams, russet potatoes, yellow onions, canned coconut milk (full fat), and my all-purpose gluten-free flour mix. In my refrigerator, I had almond milk, butter, minced garlic, and Better Than Bouillon clam base. UPDATE/WARNING: Better Than Bouillon Clam Base currently shows whey, a dairy ingredient, in its ingredient listing. See recipe for alternative suggestions to keep this soup dairy free. In addition, Better Than Bouillon no longer says their products are gluten free as they also manufacture gluten-full products on the same lines and they don’t test their gluten-free products to ensure they are gluten free. Based on my own reaction to their products, I no longer feel they are safe for the gluten-free community. In my spice cabinet, I had seasoning salt and Old Bay Seasoning.
My photos aren’t great by any means (I have a long way to go before I master taking photos of soup), but in the time I could have taken many more photos to get a good one, my chowder would have been cold and you could have made this chowder to see it and try for yourself. Have at it!
- 3 to 4 large russet potatoes
- 2 6-ounce cans minced clams, drained with liquid reserved
- ¼ cup butter (dairy or non-dairy)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup gluten-free flour (or other thickener of your choice)
- 2 cups of clam liquid and clam broth, combined (see directions)
- 1 ½ teaspoons gluten-free, dairy-free soup base or bouillon granules (added to water---see directions)
- 6 ounces full-fat coconut milk plus 6 ounces almond milk (or other non-dairy milk of your choice) or if you eat dairy, you can use one 12-ounce can evaporated milk
- 1 tsp seasoning salt (or more to taste)
- ¼ tsp Old Bay seasoning (optional)
- Microwave the potatoes about 8-9 minutes or until baked through.
- While potatoes are baking, drain clams and reserve juice in a 2-cup measuring cup. Set clams aside.
- Set aside cooked potatoes to cool slightly. (You can also use leftover baked potatoes in this recipe.)
- In large sauce pan, melt butter and add onion over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent and cooked most of the way through. Cook about 7 to 8 minutes.
- While onions are cooking, fill a teapot/saucepan half way full with water and bring to a boil.
- Add garlic to your soup pan. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring while cooking.
- Add flour. Stir to make a roux. (It doesn’t take long at all.) Remove from heat so roux will not burn.
- Add boiling water to measuring cup that already contains reserved clam juice, filling to 2-cup level. Stir in 1 ½ tsp soup base/granules. Stir well until soup base/granules are dissolved and becomes clam broth.
- Slowly add milk and broth to soup pan and return to heat.
- Scoop most of the pulp from one potato, mash it slightly and add to chowder.
- Add clams to chowder.
- Bring chowder to a boil. Add seasoning salt and Old Bay (if used).
- Quickly dice the remaining two potatoes and completely empty skin of the third potato. Add to chowder and heat through for a minute or two. Serve. Enjoy.
- Adapt this recipe to your liking. For example, some clam chowder recipes call for crumbled bacon to be added at the end. A gluten-free bread on the side would make for a wonderful meal. I ate my chowder without accompaniment, but Mr. GFE enjoyed a breadstick (gluten-full) with his. There are many gfe "bread" options that would go great with this chowder: Popovers, Garlic Cheese Biscuits, Corn Muffins, Marvelous Cheese Muffins, and Flat and Firm Cornbread, to name a few---all of which can be made dairy free when needed by using ingredients like non-dairy butter, non-dairy milk, and Daiya Cheddar Cheese. (Check out gfe Recipes page for more ideas.)
Even with minced clams, I use my kitchen shears to cut all of the clam pieces very small. (I really hate chunks of super chewy clams.)
More potatoes will make this chowder thicker, but note that if there is any chowder leftover, it will thicken considerably upon cooling and additional liquid may need to be added before serving. I leave the skins on the potatoes for the extra nourishment they provide. They cook down most of the way and are pretty tender, so we enjoy them in our soups, but if you prefer, you can discard potato skins.
The 25 Days of Christmas event is winding down (and quickly!), be sure to check out previous posts to make sure you haven’t missed any … especially the current cookbook giveaway!
Day 1 – Gluten-Free Holiday Giveaway Galore x 10—Giveaway of the new book, Mommy, What is Celiac Disease?, plus gluten-free treats and fun stuff. (Although giveaway has ended; you can still order Katie’s new book here. )
Day 6 — Nutiva Products (Coconut, Hemp x 2, & Chia) Review (Giveaway has ended.)
Day 7 — Reindeer Antlers Punch for Share Our Holiday Table (You can still give to feed a child this holiday season or throughout the year; $25 feeds a child three meals a day for one entire month.)
Day 11 — Kitchen Table Bakers Crisps Review
Day 18 — An Unexpected Christmas Blessing
Day 20 — Review: Oskri Organic Bars