A good seafood chowder just makes the holidays feel more “holiday-like”, especially in Florida where we will never have a blanket of fresh white snow to make it feel like Christmas! This year, we opted for a gluten free, dairy free lobster and shrimp chowder that was perfect for Christmas Day. It would make for a fabulous New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day meal as well.
Thoughts on New England Chowders
I loved growing up in the Northeast. The beautiful changing seasons, the picturesque mountains and pristine beaches. My fondest memories, however, seem to center around food. The seasons provided an abundance of local produce, fruits, cheeses and meats. I was constantly in search of the perfect “everything”. The perfect apple pie accompanied by fresh cider donuts on a crisp Fall afternoon after raking leaves. The perfect chicken pot pie to enjoy the first snowfall at a quaint Vermont inn. The perfect strawberry shortcake while watching the boats on Saratoga Lake. And, one of my all time favorites… New England Chowders.
I was blessed to spend 4 months in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, from July through October during 2013. By most accounts the very best 4 months to spend in New England. During my stay there I embarked upon a search for the ultimate New England chowder. I’m pleased to say I found many great versions of this iconic, often taken for granted, recipe but I also found countless disappointments. I sampled no fewer than 100 versions of this seemingly simple, yet very complex, recipe from Boston to Provincetown, Martha’s Vineyard to Nantucket and every restaurant and shanty I could find in between. In the end, the winning recipe came from a restaurant within walking distance of the house on the beach where I was staying in Onset. Further proof that the chowder isn’t always better on the other side!
Chowder for Christmas
This Christmas Kristin and I chose a quiet, peaceful way to spend the holiday together, and when she suggested a seafood chowder for Christmas dinner, I knew it was a great choice. I paired the meal with gluten free cheddar biscuits, similar to the ones Red Lobster serves, and it was a match made in chowder heaven!
This recipe is not the exact recipe I found in Onset, rather an adaptation of it to keep it gluten and dairy free. We try to maintain a whole food diet, eating few to no grains, no gluten, and as minimal of dairy as possible. Eliminating dairy in a chowder can be tricky because whole milk cream gives such a richness to the soup. I was pleased, however, with the flavor, consistency, and richness of this chowder, sans dairy. I was also glad the coconut flavor did not come noticeably come through.
Happy Holidays from our kitchen to yours!! Please let me know if you have any questions!
2 cans Coconut Milk (w/ coconut water from one can reserved)
3 Bay Leaves
1 Tbl Fresh Thyme
1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
1 - 1.5 lbs Lobster meat pieces and Shrimp (deveined, tails removed, cut into pieces)
2 Tbl Sherry
Bunch of Green Onions (chopped w/ green ends reserved for garnish)
Bacon Crumbles for garnish
In a large pan over low heat, soften the onions and carrots in the oil, about 10 minutes.
Add 2 cups of the diced potatoes to the pan along with the carrots and onions. Pout in the clam juice and 1 can of the coconut milk. Remove the cream from the second can of coconut milk, and add to the pan. Reserve the remaining coconut water. Add the bay leaves, thyme and salt. Increase the heat to a low simmer.
In a separate, smaller pan filled 2/3 full of water, add the other 2 cups of potatoes and boil until tender.
Drain the potatoes and add them to a blender with the reserved coconut water. Blend until smooth.
Add the pureed potatoes to the soup pot, stirring to combine and bring the pan back to a simmer.
Add the white parts of the green onions to the pan, as well as the seafood and sherry. Simmer until cooked through. Remove the bay leaves.
Serve garnished with the green onion tops and bacon crumbles.