I don’t know when or why my love affair with soups began, but man-o-man I love my soup. Hot, cold, meat, fish, vegetarian, bean, squash, noodle or lentil, I don’t think I’ve ever made a soup I didn’t love. I like my soups thick and satisfying, a meal in itself, almost more of a chowder than a soup.
My recipe box is a testament to my love of soup. Having finally abandoned the little 3×5 recipe card boxes I tried to live with for decades, I found a useful alternative. I bought one of those boxes you can find at hobby stores that are meant for filing greeting cards and old photos. It was the perfect size for 8-1/2 x 11 printouts of recipes that I could fold in half and sort in manila folders that I’d trimmed down to size. My soup folder is easily 2-3x thicker than anything else in the box!
About 30 years ago I fantasized having my own soup kitchen, downtown, serving hearty, organic soups, salads and breads to the lunch crowd. Every day there would be a variety of new soups to choose from, plus a few favorite regulars. But besides not having the money, I realized that owning a mom and pop restaurant is a lot of hard work. I’ve updated that fantasy to owning a small farm in a green and charming country area and opening my house to soup lovers on the weekends. I would grow my own herbs and vegetables and buy local sustainable foods that I couldn’t provide myself. Of course, I’d have to go out of state for some ingredients such as seafood, but I’d only buy wild caught sea foods and local free range meat and poultry. But now for reality…
I lived in Florida for a few years before I moved to Colorado. One of the local restaurants, Walt’s Fish Market, served a snapper chowder that I absolutely loved. I’d order it every time we ate there. Then we moved to Colorado and—no more Walt’s chowder. I spent maybe a couple of years perfecting my own snapper chowder recipe that I thought matched the flavors that I remembered from Walt’s, which is the recipe I’m sharing today. A couple of years later I went back to Florida and had dinner at… Walt’s, of course. I ordered the snapper chowder and was shocked to find I didn’t like it! The recipe that I’d honed to perfection at home put Walt’s soup to shame! This is a hearty soup that you can make a meal out of. It reheats well and I tend to put the leftovers in freezer-safe canning jars and freeze them for quick and healthy lunches. Enjoy!
- 1/4 c olive oil extra virgin
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2-3 carrots chopped
- 2-3 stalks celery chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic pressed or chopped
- 1 can clams chopped, minced or baby (6.5-10 oz)
- 3 pints chicken broth or stock
- 1 pint stewed tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp thyme (dried)
- 1 bay leaf
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 pound snapper chopped into chunks
- 1 plantain chopped
- cayanne pepper to taste
- 1 cup okra chopped (optional)
- Saute vegetables & garlic in olive oil until they begin to soften and onion starts to become translucent (about 15 minutes).
- Add chicken broth, clam broth, stewed tomatoes, plantain and spices. Simmer until vegetables are soft (about 30 minutes).
- Add clams, snapper chunks (and okra if using), and cook for another half hour. Feel free to simmer longer.