Thursday, February 3, 2011

Clam chowder

A friend recently asked if I cook every day. The answer is yes and no. Living alone, it is just not worth it to cook every day. Also, I am a busy student and I am usually too tired or too busy to cook a meal from scratch every single day. Instead, I use a variety of prepared foods (Trader Joe's is my best friend) and home cooked. When I cook from scratch, I usually don't reduce the portion size too much, so I usually end up with at least 2 meals for every time I light the stove. Generally you can eat the same meal or a similar one 2-3 days before getting tired of it.

I usually subside on easy meals: pasta, noodles, chicken, salad, soup. Pasta: I make whole wheat spaghetti or farfalle with things like peas, shrimp, mushrooms, pancetta, and/or spinach. Add a little garlic, lemon, light olive oil, and spices, and you have a fast simple meal. My other meals are simple also.

Sometimes I invest some time in a hearty soup that will last for days. In case you haven't noticed, I have a serious obsession with thick, chunky soups that are substantial enough for a meal. Canned soups are loaded with sodium and calories and are usually low on veggies and nutrients. Homemade soups are delicious and fresh, even if you are not super skilled at cooking.

Here's a recipe for clam chowder that is a bit healthier than the normal ones made with heavy cream.

Light Clam Chowder

adapted from Cooking Light magazine


4 turkey bacon slices
1 tub of mirepoix (I used one from Trader Joe's, but you could chop about 1 cup each of diced onions, celery, and carrots)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cans chopped clams, undrained
3 cups diced potatoes
1 bottle clam juice
1 bay leaf
3 cups fat-free milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour


1. Dice bacon. Cook bacon in a large pan until crisp. Remove about 1 tablespoon for topping, set aside.
2. Add mirepoix, salt, thyme, pepper, paprika, and garlic to drippings in pan; cook 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
3. Add clam liquid, potatoes, clam juice, and bay leaf to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Discard bay leaf.
4. In a bowl, combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 12 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Add clams; cook 2 minutes. Sprinkle with bacon.

bubbling in the pot

Simple meal: chowder and caesar salad

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