I usually make my seafood chowder with the less expensive bits of seafood, bay scallops, cod, small shrimp. Last weekend, I bought 10 lobster tails for Miriam’s birthday and two of my guests canceled. I had two tails that I did not use. What could I do with them to feed three people?
A seafood chowder seemed the obvious choice. Just the lobster meat by itself would have been a scant soup, but it did not seem right to add just any cheap fish to the soup. A king crab cluster, sea scallops and shrimp were what I finally decided would work for this chowder.
I have made this dish in two ways—as a blended soup, Fishyssoise; and as a more chunky Northeaster Chowder. I wanted the expensive chunks of meat to be the stars of this dish, so I chose to blend the vegetables. I also kept the spicing simple to highlight the seafood’s delicate flavors.
Karl’s Seafood Chowder
2 lobster tails,
1 King crab cluster, shelled and cut into large bite sized pieces
½ lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ lb. sea scallops
32 oz. low sodium fish stock
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 stalk celery, diced
1 leeks, white parts only, sliced finely
½ tsp. Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 large Russet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup half-and-half
Pinch fresh grated nutmeg
1. Shell and cut the lobster and crab into large bite sized pieces.
Tip: Break up the shell fish over a medium pot to catch any liquid released. Break up the shells a bit and reserve them in the same pot. Put the prepared fish in a separate bowl.
2. Shell and devein the shrimp and cut the larger scallops in half.
Tip: Put the shrimp shells in the medium pot.
3. Add the fish stock to the shells and bring the pot to a boil. Cover and remove from the heat to cool.
4. Melt butter over a medium high heat in a large soup pot. Sauté the vegetables with the salt until they are well softened, about eight minutes.
5. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the chopped garlic to the hole in the center. Sauté the garlic until it is fragrant, about one minute, and then stir in the vegetables.
6. Strain the shells out of the stock and discard the shells.
Tip: Scoop the large pieces out of the soup a few at a time. Put them in a large sieve over the pot and shake any liquid off of the shells. Continue until most of the shells are out of the pot.
7. Add the fish stock, black pepper, and the sliced Russet potatoes to the large pot.
Tip: Use a ladle and a fine meshed sieve to transfer the soup stock to the large pot, until the smaller pot is empty enough to pick up easily.
Note: Save some of the cooled soup to cool off the hot soup and to rinse out the blender jar.
8. Bring the pot to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
9. Remove the soup from the heat and cool slightly. Briefly process the soup in a standing blender until smooth.
Tip: If you prefer a more rustic chunky soup, use a potato masher or immersion blender to partial break up the vegetables.
10. Return the soup to the pot and bring the pot to a boil.
11. Reduce the heat and add the lobster and scallops. Simmer for 8 minutes.
12. Stir in the crab and shrimp. Simmer for five minutes more.
13. Add the cream and continue stirring, until the soup has fully reheated, about two minutes.
Tip: Once you add the cream you want to bring the soup up to serving temperature, but you do not want the pot to come to a boil.
14. Serve the soup in individual bowls and garnish with a fresh grating of nutmeg. Serve a small green salad, oyster crackers, or crusty bread on the side.