The Dabble

-food with a side of life-

Southern State Aid and Shrimp, Leek and Fennel Chowder

As I peruse my favorite grocery section this spring, produce, it is apparent a few factors (economical/weather-related…along the lines of La Nina and its effect on the rainy/extended “winter” season) have contributed to there being less new spring produce and increased prices as much of the other items (wheat, corn and soy-based) have seen in recent months. Have you noticed increasing prices on items you regularly purchase? Does this have a significant impact on your bill or do you avoid purchasing those items?

The temperature snafu and dangerous storms in many parts of the United States (and other countries) have been hell on the harvest. The storms in the south sound like stories of myth in their strength and reach but so frightening and real that they shake us to our core. My thoughts have been with the victims and towns that were demolished by the horrendous tornadoes. Recovery will be long and the extent will be felt through all of the states. Here’s a link to an article from the people at Good with information on how to donate to relief agencies if you wish to help.

It will reverberate in all of our states, as well as, our hearts. For me, it’s the realization that the lack of spring produce in my small town represents a bigger problem for southern communities and the world. Makes my small issues diminish in importance and facts more sound. Facts such as, I have the well-being of my loved ones, no matter how far away they are, I have shelter, no matter how much it isn’t what I’d like, and we are able to supply ourselves with necessities. There are people who no longer have this and now long for such basic needs. Long for only those small issues that plague every day lives.

I have hope that this week things will be better. Just as in Japan, recovery will continue, aid will be available and continued support will be had and needed. A good meal and an available room would be what I provide if I lived near the tornado’s destruction. A meal like this with all of the love in my heart on the side: shrimp, leek and fennel chowder. Something absolutely delicious and comforting.

Shrimp, Leek and Fennel Chowder
Serves 4 to 6

3 tbsp butter
2 leeks, rinsed well, white and green parts, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
coarse salt/freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning (or you favorite seafood seasoning)
dash of cayenne-optional
3 tbsp flour
8 oz. clam juice
2 cups milk (preferably whole)
2 cups vegetable or seafood broth
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and diced
1 lb. cooked, peeled, deveined medium shrimp
12 oz. frozen corn
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
baguette for serving

Heat the butter in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, fennel, carrot, onion, garlic, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in the flour, Old Bay and cayenne. Add the clam juice, milk, broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the shrimp and frozen corn. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the shrimp are heated through and corn is cooked. Taste for salt and pepper.

When serving, stir in the parsley and lemon juice. The chowder can simmer on low at this time until serving and tastes even better the second day. Providing a baguette on the side makes it that much better. You can also refrigerate this for up to 3 days and freeze it for up to 3 months. My next batch will be a double for this purpose. Enjoy and please share!

3 thoughts on “Southern State Aid and Shrimp, Leek and Fennel Chowder

  1. While I feel a bit guilty about saying this, my grocery bill is one area that I don’t think about too much. However this is also a time of transition, when when my “grocery” bill shifts more heavily to my excursions to the farmers market and the only things I’m buying at traditional stores (including Target, Trader Joe’s, etc) are the staples I can’t find at the market. I buy as much as my produce and all my meat and eggs from the farmers market. I know I am fortunate to be able to afford to have such freedom in my food budget.

    1. I think that’s great, Kris. If you can afford to do so, I don’t see a reason to feel guilty. Knowing your love for quality ingredients and support of your local vendors, it’s safe to say these are priorities we share. There are a few times in the month that I do allow more to our budget for the farmers market and local meat shops. I’ve noticed polls about the average cost of groceries these days for a 4 person family and just the two of us spend more by $20+. I think it was around $100/week on average in those polls. You being in Portland, I’m sure the farmers markets are things of dreams (maybe except the crowd and parking).

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