Divided BY Chowder

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If there is one thing I have learned as a chef there as many versions of chowder recipes as there are people who enjoy this soup, err..I mean stew..no I think soup?  

George Hirsch Chowder

Each of my cookbooks and TV series has a version of some sort of a chowder recipe. I have judged chowder contests, participated in chef chowder tastings, and been a referee at a few chowder-boxing matches. Well, not really, but people do get heated up over red or white chowder. 

What really is chowder? The word "chowder" comes from the French word chaudiere, or caldron, the vessel in which the dish was cooked. And, derives from the word "jowter," meaning fishmonger, a term that was used in 16th century coastal regions of England.

George Hirsch Seafood

Is it a soup or stew? Early versions of chowder simmered from the New England area and was basically a frugal recipe of pork fat, onions, potatoes, fish, herbs, dry biscuits or flour for thickening, layered in a pot and cooked in water, with a little milk added at the end. In the 1800’s the Manhattan clam chowder was notable because it contains tomatoes. James Beard described Manhattan clam chowder "that rather horrendous soup called Manhattan clam chowder resembles a vegetable soup that accidentally had some clams dumped into it." All respect Mr. Beard, but those are fighting words. As a New Yorker and from coastal Long Island, an East Ender we take our chowder VERY serious. See, how a discussion on chowder can turn into a sparring match.

Tomato-based clam chowders came about with the newfound popularity of the tomato in the mid-1800s with the large population of Italians and Portuguese in New York and Rhode Island region. Still, there is no chowder harmony. In 1939, Maine legislators introduced a bill outlawing the use of tomatoes in chowder because it is far more of a vegetable soup. What? 

I can end this entire soup divide right now. Aside from any vegetables, corn, chicken or other non-seafarer ingredient for the stew--here are three versions you can enjoy from my TV series and cookbooks. They have satisfied many and with hope can prevent a nation from future chowder conflict. 

Manhattan vs. New England Chowder N.E. not my fav..

Seafood Chowder Yes, now this is a stew!

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Summer Corn Chowder

Celebrating Chef George's 24th Anniversary on PBS

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It's time for a summer soup. Make magic with the goodness from the earth, simply with corn and potatoes.

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One my most often requested soup recipes especially during summer when the farms are so abundant with fresh candy-like corn, and our famous Long Island East End Yukon Potatoes. 

It is known that eastern Long Island has some of the best soil for farming in the world. Off the record I have had some farmers tell me - that farmers in other regions are envious over the rich well drained earth here on the East End. 

Summer Corn Chowder

Makes four-six servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 Tablespoon olive oil 

4 Tablespoons pancetta or bacon, chopped

3/4 cup chopped sweet onion, chopped 

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 

1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 

1/2 cup chopped carrot, chopped 

1/2 cup chopped celery, chopped 

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour 

4 cups chicken broth 

2 cups corn, (about 4 ears) fresh cut from cob; or leftover grilled corn

1 cup Yukon potatoes, well scrubbed skin left on, chopped 1/4 inch pieces

1 bay leaf 

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped 

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce 

pinch of sea salt

fresh ground black pepper

1/2 cup half-half 

1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Pre heat a soup pot to medium temperature. Add olive oil and pancetta, cook until light brown. Add onion, garlic and chicken and cook until lightly colored. 

Add carrot, celery and cook three to four minutes. Add flour, cook for two minutes and slowly add chicken broth. Bring soup to a boil, add corn, potatoes, thyme, hot sauce and bay leaf. Simmer soup for 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

Pre heat half-half, add sea salt, pepper to soup and top with fresh chopped parsley.

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WHITE TURKEY CHILI

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What to do with all that turkey? You gave goodie bags away, but there seems to be so much left, still. Well, here are a couple great ideas beyond the old turkey-n-gravy sandwich, which isn't that bad either. My number one requested one-pot meal recipe is my White Turkey Chili. It's so easy to prepare; just give all the ingredients time to simmer; a spicy and a warm way to serve turkey. 

Chef George Hirsch White Turkey Chili

WHITE TURKEY CHILI

Makes six servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | from George Hirsch Living it UP! Cookbook 

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2cupsonion, chopped

1/4cup celery,  chopped 

1/2cupyellow bell pepper, chopped

1  Tablespoon jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

4cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon thyme

fresh ground black pepper

3cups cooked turkey or chicken, skin removed and chopped 

3cups cannellini beans, drained and mash 1 cup

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn

4 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

optional: 1cup half & half or low fat milk

Pre heat a large casserole pot to medium.

Add olive oil, onion, celery, yellow pepper, jalapeño, and garlic; cook for 5 minutes. Add cumin, chili powder and black pepper. Add turkey, 2 cups of beans, broth, corn and bring to a boil. 

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Add 1 cup mashed beans and half & half to the turkey mixture. Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes or until mixture is thick, stirring frequently. Stir in chopped cilantro.

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Craft Brewed Onion Soup

The Addition of a good craft beer to this classic recipe adds another dimension of flavor which compliments the caramelized onion. An IPA or dark beer is better but you can use your favorite brew.

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Beer Onion Soup

Makes 4 servings

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6 cups Vidalia or sweet onions, sliced  

1 Tablespoon olive oil  

1 head caramelized garlic  

2 pints craft brewed IPA beer  

6 cups beef or vegetable broth  

1 teaspoon fresh thyme  

1 teaspoon fresh parsley  

pinch nutmeg  

4 large sour dough bread croutons  

4 slices of Gruyere cheese  

1 Tablespoon Parmesan cheese 

Preheat a soup pot. 

Add olive oil, onions and garlic. Cook onions until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add beer and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Add broth, thyme, parsley and nutmeg. Simmer for 45 minutes. 

Place sourdough croutons in 4 bowls. Add soup to each bowl. Top with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a slice of Gruyere. Broil for 2 minutes or until cheese melts and is slightly browned. 

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Creamy Tomato Soup as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

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One of the most popular types of comfort food combinations is the soup and sandwich. And, one of the most popular soup/sandwich combinations is tomato soup and grilled cheese. For my Vintage Classics episode on GHL I prepared Creamy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese with farm fresh bread, cured French ham and aged cheddar. For the ultimate tomato soup I combined a mix of fresh ripe San Marzano plum tomatoes and canned San Marzano tomatoes. During peak harvest season when there is a plentiful supply of farm fresh tomatoes available I would use all fresh, but during shoulder seasons I will mix with high quality San Marzano canned tomatoes. 

Once all your ingredients are assembled comfort can be achieved in about thirty minutes. Mmm Mmm Good!!! 

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George’s Creamy Tomato Soup

Makes 6-8 servings

 chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle 

5 large ripe San Marzano Plum tomatoes, deseeded and chopped

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 Tablespoons sweet butter

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

2-4 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

2- 15 ounce cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes

4 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon each dried thyme, basil

hot sauce, sea salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1 cup half-and-half 

Pre heat a large 4 quart soup pot.

Add olive oil, onion, garlic and fresh plum tomatoes. Stir and sweat 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the butter and when melted, then add the flour, sir and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the canned San Marzano tomatoes, stir, and simmer 5 minutes. 

Add the chicken broth, bay leaves, thyme, and dried basil, simmer for 5 minutes.

Add fresh basil and simmer for 5 additional minutes. 

Remove bay leaves and take the soup off the stove. For a creamier soup use a food pulser and puree slightly leaving a few chunks of tomatoes. Return back to stove and bring back to a boil, and add the optional half-and-half. 

Lower heat and simmer 2 minutes.  

Add hot sauce, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Served topped with crunchy croutons and a few drops of olive oil.