Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Soup & Bread for Christmas Eve

The traditional Christmas Eve supper at our house growing up was always Oyster Stew. Basically just canned oysters (we were in land-locked Colorado, after all), milk, and butter, served with round oyster crackers. It was ok, but I didn't really like eating the big oyster chunks. The hot, buttery milk was good, but not really enough. So I've adapted Dad's tradition to suit my own tastes. Sticking with the idea of a seafood soup, I make a red vegetable chowder using canned baby clams. Add a homemade artisan-style crusty loaf of bread and some champagne with a splash of peach brandy (a budget Bellini, and really dresses up cheap champagne) and we've got a wonderful Christmas Eve supper (candlelight optional).

Vegetable Clam Chowder (makes 4-6 supper-size servings)
1 cup clam juice
1 cup water
8 oz tomato sauce
16 oz canned whole tomatoes, cut into chunks
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 onions, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 tablespoon marjoram
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
10 oz canned baby clams
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
salt & pepper to taste

Combine clam juice (from canned clams too), water, tomato sauce, tomatoes, potatoes, green pepper, carrots, onion, celery, marjoram, thyme, salt, pepper, and sugar in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer about 20 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add clams and corn. Simmer soup for another 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste. Optional: garnish with chopped parsley when serving.

I'm starting the bread tonight - a very wet, no-knead dough that gets its flavor from sitting overnight on the counter; its crusty goodness from being baked inside a very hot dutch oven. The recipe is now many places on the Internet. I first came upon it a year ago in Mother Earth News and love how easy it is to turn out an artisan-style loaf, without any fancy equipment, and very little effort (read the article all the way through, and some of the comments - I love the suggestion to use your microwave as a bread box. I, too, have to reduce the heat a bit for my cast-iron dutch oven, but the amounts work well for me).


Carol said...

Can I come over for dinner? Sounds great. I always fixed tacos for my family when the boys were still home. My oldest can't abide Christmas Eve without tacos now.
I tried the bread recipe. It tasted great, but I don't have a Dutch oven so my substitute wasn't as effective. Hoping to find a Dutch Oven when garage sales begin again in the Spring.
Have a very Merry Christmas.

Paulette said...

We have a soup tradition on Christmas evening. I make 2 soups, usually a bean/keilbasa and a potato soup, and have fresh bread. It's a nice change from the usual holiday fare, and everyone seems to really enjoy it.

Your chowder sounds delicious.

Have a safe, Merry Christmas.

Annette said...

what a great idea! We dont have a traditional dinner - perhaps this is something I need to start. Thank you for posting the recpies.
Merry Christmas!

Gavin said...

That soup sounds fantastic. I hope you have a great Christmas Day Sadge!


frogtailrae said...

Merry Christmas, Sadge :-)

P.S. Go to my page... I finally put a photo up! lol