chowder challenged – days 12-16

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I’ve never been good at making chowder. We make soups all the time. It’s our go-to meal when we don’t know what else to make. But a good thick chowder has always eluded me. I’ve used half-and-half cream, whipping cream, flour, and cornstarch but I just can’t get it down.

The picture on the left shows my “cheesy vegetable chowder” I tried to make. As you can see, it is not chowdery in the least. My first problem was that I tried to double the recipe which was probably a bad idea in hindsight because now it’s not good and I have all this leftover soup I don’t want! I also forgot to buy cream and had to use 1% milk which I tried to compensate for by doubling the flour. Plus I used cheap cheese which is probably more plastic than anything. It was a bad situation all around.

A couple days later I found a recipe online for a creamy spinach tomato tortellini I wanted to try. This time I did a little better. My friend pointed out to me that if you’re going to use reduced fat milk, you have to add fat back into it if you want it to be creamy (Duh!!). So this time I melted some butter in a pan, added flour to that and thickened that up before adding the milk to it.  I had more success this time but it still wasn’t that velvety creamy texture I’m going for. I’m sure one day I’ll master it.

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Here’s the recipe for the Creamy Spinach Tomato Tortellini (bombshellbling.com) with my substitutions noted:

Ingredients:
1 container three cheese tortellini (8 oz)
2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes *I used regular diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil *I used oregano
1 teaspoon onion flakes
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups half-and-half *used mixture of butter, 1% milk and flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method:
Cook the tortellini according to package directions. While the tortellini is boiling, chop the spinach roughly. Heat a large skillet using medium heat and put the two teaspoons of minced garlic into it. Sautee it briefly until fragrant, about thirty seconds or so. Add into the skillet the petite diced tomatoes (undrained), spinach, salt, pepper, dried basil, and onion flakes. Cook and stir over medium high heat until the mixture begins to bubble. In another bowl, combine the flour and half-and-half (this is when I cooked the butter/milk/flour mixture in a small saucepan). Whisk until fairly smooth. Add the creamy mixture into the the skillet along with the parmesan cheese.
Heat through and reduce the heat to medium low and continue to stir and cook until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the drained tortellini and mix together gently.

My husband said “this recipe gets a ‘check'”. I guess that’s good, right?

To read more about my Vegetarian Lent Challenge, click here.

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