What’s Up, Hungry People!
Winter just punched in its time card here in Northern Ohio. After enjoying an extended period of mild weather, old man winter decided to make his grand entrance. Trust me, I’m not thrilled about the impending snowstorm this weekend either. But hey, let’s tackle this the best way we know how: WITH SOUP!
Soup: Your Winter MVP
There’s nothing like a warm, hearty chowder to slice through the chill of a winter night. But I’m not talking about just any chowder here—I’m serving up bacon and scallop chowder. My boyfriend is generally a fan of my culinary endeavors, but this one had him hooked. He not only gobbled down his leftovers the next day but also snagged mine.
A Symphony of Flavors
This soup has everything. We’re talking chunks of potato, onion, and mushroom, giving it a robust, hearty feel. But it doesn’t stop there! The wine and lemon juice add a gentle tang, rounding out the flavors. And let’s not forget, no homestyle soup would be complete without a crown of melted mozzarella cheese.
Here’s What You Need
- Bay Scallops: These offer a sweet, oceanic flavor and add a luxurious, tender bite to the chowder.
- Bacon: Adds a smoky, salty richness that complements the sweetness of the scallops and cream.
- Heavy Cream: The backbone of the chowder, it gives a rich, creamy texture.
- Cream Cheese: Provides additional creaminess and a hint of tang, helping to balance flavors.
- Water: Thins out the chowder slightly and prevents cream cheese from sticking.
- White Wine: Adds acidity and depth of flavor; helps deglaze the pan for more robust taste.
- Onion: Gives an aromatic base to the soup, providing natural sweetness and depth.
- Green Onions: Adds a touch of color and a mild, fresh onion flavor; used in cooking and as garnish.
- Mushrooms: Contribute earthiness and a meaty texture, complementing the seafood and bacon.
- Golden Corn: Adds a pop of sweetness and color, contrasting the creamy and salty elements.
- Red Skinned Potatoes: Starchy component that provides heartiness and absorbs flavors well.
- Butter: Used for sautéing; enhances flavor and helps in the browning process.
- Lemon Juice: Adds a hint of acidity to balance out the rich, creamy elements.
- Paprika: Provides a dash of spice and color, enhancing the overall flavor profile.
- Thyme: Aromatic herb that adds a subtle, earthy undertone to the chowder.
- Salt & Pepper: Basic seasonings to enhance all the other flavors in the chowder.
Start by browning those spuds until they soften. Then, toss in the onions.
Once those onions start showing their transparent side, bring in the mushrooms, corn, and your choice of herbs. I’m all about the sweet pop that corn adds to the soup, so go ahead and throw in some extra if you’re like me.
Mastering the Technique
Deglaze the pan with wine before adding water and cream cheese. Why water? Two reasons: it prevents the cream cheese from attaching itself permanently to the pan’s bottom and helps transform the cream into a luxurious sauce.
I’m a big fan of soups that not only warm the soul but also clear out those pesky winter sinuses. For that spicy kick, I often reach for Hungarian paprika, but a dash of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes can also work wonders. If you’re on Team Mild, regular paprika will do just fine.
The Final Steps
Let that beautiful mixture simmer for a bit. Then cut the heat, add the heavy cream, and stir until everything’s well mixed. Want a smoother texture? You can blend it now, but proceed with caution—I’ve seen soups erupt like a volcano!
Seafood & Bacon: A Match Made in Heaven
In a separate skillet, melt some butter and add the scallops. Don’t crowd them; otherwise, they’ll just steam each other and you’ll miss out on that perfect browning. A chewy scallop? Not on our watch!
After those scallops are golden, move on to frying the bacon. Add some crumbled bacon to the soup, but don’t forget to save a little for the garnish. Extra bacon is always a good idea, right?
Tips for Making Chowder
- se Fresh Scallops: Opt for fresh bay scallops for the best flavor and texture. Frozen scallops can become rubbery when cooked.
- Pre-Cook Bacon: If you prefer extra crispy bacon, cook it first and use the bacon grease to sauté your vegetables for added flavor.
- Corn Substitution: If you’re not a fan of corn, try diced carrots for sweetness and color without changing the overall texture.
- Cream Cheese Clumps: If your cream cheese isn’t blending well, you can use a whisk to help incorporate it more smoothly into the liquid.
- Wine Alternatives: If you’re not a wine drinker, use chicken or vegetable broth as a substitute. It will still offer a layer of flavor.
- Avoiding ‘Soup-slosions’: If you decide to blend the soup for a smoother texture, use an immersion blender to avoid transferring hot liquid.
- Heavy Cream Substitutes: For a lighter version, you can use half-and-half, but keep in mind that it won’t be as rich.
- Control the Heat: Cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes can be used sparingly for those who prefer less heat.
- Browning the Scallops: Make sure the skillet is hot before adding the scallops. This ensures a proper sear and avoids steaming them.
- Potato Variants: You can also use Yukon Gold potatoes if you prefer a creamier texture in your chowder.
- Thyme Substitutes: If you’re out of thyme, herbs like rosemary or oregano can also work but will give a different flavor profile.
- Test for Doneness: Potatoes should be fork-tender, and scallops should have a nice sear before they’re added to the chowder.
- Storage: This chowder stores well in the fridge for 3-4 days but may thicken upon standing. Add a little water when reheating.
Catch Up With Me!
Alright, Hungry People, that’s how we’re giving old man winter the cold shoulder—by warming up with this insanely comforting bacon and scallop chowder. Trust me, this soup will make you forget all about the snow piling up outside. Don’t forget to let me know how yours turns out, and as always, keep those taste buds ready for the next big thing. Enjoy!
Bacon & Scallop Chowder
- 16 oz bay scallops
- 5 slices bacon
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup white wine
- ½ cup onion diced
- 4 green onions chopped
- 5 mushrooms chopped
- ½ cup golden corn
- 4 small red skinned potatoes chopped
- ⅓ cup butter
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons thyme
- salt & pepper to taste
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large soup pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped potatoes and sauté until they begin to brown. Stir in the diced onion.
- When the onion becomes translucent and starts to brown, toss in the mushrooms, corn, and thyme. Add in the lemon juice and half of the chopped green onions. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the white wine into the pan and bring it to a rolling bubble for 1-2 minutes. Once most of the wine has evaporated, mix in the cream cheese and 1 cup of water. Let the soup simmer for 10 minutes over medium-low heat.
- While the soup is simmering, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a separate skillet. Cook the scallops in batches, searing them until golden brown on both sides—about 2-3 minutes per side. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan.
- Remove the cooked scallops and set them aside. In the same skillet, fry the bacon until it becomes crispy.
- Sprinkle the paprika into the simmering soup, and add any additional salt and/or pepper if needed. Pour in the heavy cream, stirring well to combine.
- Add half of the seared scallops to the soup. Crumble the crispy bacon into the soup as well, reserving some for garnish if desired.
- To serve, spoon the soup into bowls and top with the remaining scallops, bacon, and the other half of the chopped green onions. Serve hot and enjoy!