Hearty Manhattan Clam Chowder

This is a hearty soup full of flavor, both spicy and sweet with surprises of saltiness from the bits of bacon.   The chowder is a meal in itself, however this spicy broth pairs nicely with my refreshing Beet & Watermelon Salad.  This recipe yields a generous 8-10 servings.  I freeze half of the soup in individual serving size containers for a fast, nutritious and satisfying meal anytime.

Ingredients

  • 5 slices bacon, cut into small squares
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper (green or red bell peppers can be used; I like the color contrast of yellow bell peppers)
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 cups potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 5 – 15 oz clam stock*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, removed from stems and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (this will definitely add a spicy kick to the soup which I love; try ¼ tsp to start if you don’t like your soup too spicy)
  • 3 cans 6.5 ounce minced clams
  • 2 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes*, chopped and juices reserved
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
  • 4 turns of freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of salt

* NOTE: If you are a gluten-free diet, ensure that the ingredients you are using are gluten-free.

Directions

In a large heavy pot add bacon and render until golden and crispy.  Add onions, celery, bell pepper and carrots and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, until vegetables are softened.  Add garlic and cook for additional 2 minutes.  Add potatoes, clam broth, bay leaves, dried oregano, thyme and crushed red pepper.  Cover and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes and continue to cook for 15 additional minutes.  Add clams (for less cloudy and clammy taste, drain clams but I sometimes add the whole can, juice and all).  Add parsley and season with pepper and salt.  Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with some chopped fresh parsley when serving.

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Red or green bell peppers can be used however, I prefer the color contrast of yellow bell peppers.
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Cook the vegetables until softened, about 10 minutes.
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Remove the thyme leaves from the stem and chop roughly.
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Mince 4 large garlic cloves.
This spicy and hearty Manhattan Clam Chowder pairs nicely with my sweet and refreshing Beet & Watermelon Salad.
This spicy and hearty Manhattan Clam Chowder pairs nicely with my sweet and refreshing Beet & Watermelon Salad.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Chicken vegetable soup, on its own, or with egg noodles and rice, is one of my favorite, satisfying and fast, “go to” meals.  It’s easy to bring to work for lunch or heat up after an evening workout for dinner.  When I’m carbo-loading, I often add cooked rice and eat it on several days during the week prior to a race.  Chicken vegetable and rice soup was part of my 3:30 am breakfast on the morning of my first Ironman.  Unfortunately, that soup came out of a can since I was away from home.  Here is the homemade version that I’ve been making and enjoying for years.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups or ½ of large white onion (chopped)
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 – 32 ounce chicken broth*
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 1 chicken breast with bone and skin on
  • 10 carrots (peeled and sliced about ½ inch thick; I prefer a soup hearty with vegetables so slice the carrots to your thickness preference)
  • 8 celery stocks; slice stalks lengthwise into 3rds or 4ths then dice
  • celery leaves
  • 3 parsley stems with leaves
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 turns of pepper mill (season to taste)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Cooked egg noodle*s or cooked rice (optional)

* NOTE: If you are a gluten-free diet, ensure that the ingredients you are using are gluten-free.

Equipment:

  • 12 quart stock pot
  • Cheesecloth

Directions:

Rinse chicken breast and set aside.  In stock pot, sauté onion in olive oil until softened (about 10 minutes).  Add broth, water and chicken breast to onions.  Place lid on pot an bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

While broth is simmering, make a “mirepoix” by placing the celery leaves, parsley stems, thyme and bay leaf in cheesecloth and tie into a bundle.

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A mirepoix can be a combination of celery, onions, and carrots. There are many mirepoix variations, which can sometimes be just one of these ingredients, or include additional spices. You can add whole peppercorns to this mirepoix.

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Add the mirepoix, carrots, celery, salt and pepper to the pot. Continue to simmer for at least 1 more hour however the longer you simmer the more the flavor will develop.

After an hour or more, remove the chicken.  Remove and discard the chicken skin.  Pull apart meat with a fork and place a few pieces into individual bowls.  Ladle soup with vegetables into individual bowls.  You can add your favorite cooked egg noodles (I like the no-yolk egg noodles) or cooked rice.  If you don’t want the carbs, leave the noodles and rice out.

If you have time to make the soup in advance, chill it in the refrigerator before serving.  The fat will rise to the top and solidify making it easy to spoon off and discard.  Store the cooked chicken separately from the broth and vegetables.  The broth and vegetables freezes well.  You can boil a fresh chicken breast when you are ready to defrost and eat the frozen soup.

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Saute the onions until softened, approximately 10 minutes. Do not allow it to brown.
I prefer a hearty soup, loaded with vegetables.  You can even add parsnips, a root vegetable related to the carrot.
I prefer a hearty soup, loaded with vegetables.
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The leaves inside the celery stalk (top left) adds a lot of flavor to the soup. Use it for your “mirepoix”. The celery stalks can be cut up to any size. I prefer smaller bites of celery with each spoonful of soup.

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Baked eggs with spinach and ham

Early morning workouts are a part of my Ironman training schedule.  I typically swim in the mornings however the past 2 weeks have been extremely challenging.  We have been experiencing unseasonably cold temperatures here in Northern California.  I woke up to a balmy 36F.  After a swim, I am cold and starved.  I typically enjoy steel cut oatmeal with almonds and blueberries but today I was craving something more comforting.  Baked eggs with spinach and ham was a satisfying post swim breakfast that warmed my belly up quite nicely.

I avoided eggs for many years due to a family history of high blood pressure and cholesterol. Fortunately it was determined that I had high levels of HDL “good” cholesterol.  Still I try to maintain a low cholesterol, low fat diet.  I typically use Eggland’s Best Eggs which boasts less fat and cholesterol and more nutrients than regular eggs.  These “engineered” eggs are created by controlling the chicken’s diet.  For more on eggs, here’s a good article:

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/eggs-friend-or-foe.

The latest science seems to suggest that eggs are not as bad for you as once thought.  I’m happy to be reunited with eggs again.  I’m fond of everything made with eggs.

Serving size: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon grated Gruyere and Swiss cheese (cheddar or parmesan works well too)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cooked ham (I had frozen ham left over from a dinner party)
  • 2 tablespoon thawed frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375F.  Coat a medium ramekin (the size you’d use for creme brulee) with olive oil.  Sprinkle even coating of cheese to the bottom of the ramekin.  Crack both eggs into ramekin, being careful not to break the yolk.  Sprinkle ham, spinach and parsley around the yolk.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bake at 375F for 12-15 minutes depending on how well you like your yolks done.

In case you are interested in seeing the episode of Julia Child’s show that inspired me to cook, here it is: