Friday, September 26, 2008

Lobster & Corn Chowder

Okay, I know this blog is designed for everyday cooking, but there are times when we want to make something really special. This is a fabulous soup and it comes together easily when you follow the directions. It's a special occasion dish, however, as lobster is not cheap and this isn't the healthiest soup in the world! The recipe serves 2.

From The Pampered Chef's Cooking for Two and More

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: About 45 minutes

1 8 ounce uncooked lobster tail (about 10 ounces in shell)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons brandy, divided (optional)
1 small leek (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 bottles (8 ounces each) clam juice
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large red potato, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Thyme sprigs (optional)

1. Remove lobster meat from shell (see notes below); cut into 1-inch pieces. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 1.5 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add lobster; cook 5-7 minutes or until edges of lobster begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Remove lobster from pan; set aside. If desired, add 1 tablespoon of the brandy to pan (if not using brandy, use water); stir to loosen browned bits from bottom of pan using a whisk.

2. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in same saucepan over medium heat. Add leek and thyme; cook and stir 1 minute or until slightly softened. Whisk in flour; cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in clam juice, tomato paste and salt; bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Add potato; simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Stir in corn; cover and cook 10 minutes or until potato is tender.

3. Stir in cream; simmer gently just until heated through. Remove from heat; add lobster and remaining 1 tablespoon brandy, if desired. Ladle soup into bowls; garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

Notes from recipe:
Browning the lobster meat in butter not only gives it an appetizing color but intensifies the flavor and adds depth to the soup.

For best browning, allow the butter to foam up before adding the lobster and cook undisturbed for the first few minutes. Deglazing with brandy highlights the sweetness and releases all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

To remove lobster meat from the shell, cut down center of top and bottom of lobster shell with kitchen shears; pull shell apart.

My notes:
I did not use brandy, and the taste of the soup was wonderful, so don't go out and buy brandy just for this recipe!

I made this during winter (March 1 - I remember because it was the day that my grandmother died, sadly), so fresh corn wasn't the best choice. I used frozen corn and it turned out just fine. The local grocery store also does not carry leeks, so I used a small white onion instead.

I found clam juice in the seafood section of the grocery store. It happened to be in the first store I went to (I had chosen the store because I knew for sure they sold lobster tails), so I don't know how easy it might be to find. The lobster tail I purchased was frozen, so you may want to make sure you pick up the lobster with enough time to safely thaw it out. I saw that they had thawed lobster on display and assumed that mine would be thawed already. After a few hours in the refrigerator, they were still mostly frozen!

If you are buying fresh thyme to put in the soup, definitely use it as garnish as well. Special occasion soup deserves that extra touch! I also served this in my "fancy" dishes and made the table (which was actually 4 TV trays put together!) look nice with a tablecloth, place mats, cloth napkins and candles. The effect was very nice and made an ordinary, poorly furnished dining room into something special!

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