The trees catch fire. The now-golden sunlight fades by 6 p.m. The Grady High football announcer’s voice reverberates up the street, followed at halftime by the percussion and horns of the marching band.
Sitting by the cold window in the dark, I feel the season’s usual downward tug on my heart. For a moment, I don’t breathe, caught in loss nearing despair. Then I turn toward the glow of the kitchen, stand, and move into the light. I chop onion, fry bacon; I stir, simmer, and season. I make my own comfort.
Soup season has arrived.
(Carrie’s great clam chowder recipe caught my eye. I’ve altered it a bit to be dairy-free and to be more to my taste. Speaking of Carrie, she offers a multitude of great gluten-free recipes, including some chocolate chip cookies rumored to be among the best in the gluten-free world. If you can eat soy and eggs, you may want to check them out.)
Creamy But Cream-Free Clam Chowder
(New England-Style, plus gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free)
This is pure comfort food. It’s not unbearably unhealthy, but it’s also not light. I served it with a big green salad with pistachios and the season’s first blood oranges to balance things out a bit.
3 slices bacon, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup clam juice (Sold in bottles at the grocery store)
5 medium red potatoes (2 to 2 1/2 c. potatoes), diced
1/2-1 c. water
1 (6-10 oz.) can minced clams WITH juice
1 cup hemp milk*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
In a dutch oven or large stock pot, cook diced bacon at medium heat until it is browned and crispy. Add oil, and allow it to heat a few moments. Add chopped onions, salt, pepper, and Old Bay Seasoning. Cook 3-5 minutes until onions are translucent. Add clam juice, clams WITH juice, and diced potatoes. If necessary, add 1/2 to 1 c. (or more) water until the potatoes are just barely covered. Cook at a low boil for 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are cooked and are fork-tender. Using a potato masher or immersion blender, mash potatoes within the pot. (This will help to create a creamy texture for the soup.) Add hemp milk to soup, stir well, and heat through. Enjoy with additional pepper and gluten-free crackers. (Schar makes my favorite gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free, dairy-free table cracker.)
Makes 4 servings.
*Yes, you can probably use a different dairy substitute, but hemp milk is creamy and isn’t sweet, so it’s a good match for this recipe.