Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tuna or Salmon Chowder

This recipe deserves a story. A couple years ago, Max and I went on a 2-week bike trip on the Pacific Coast. The first week of riding was in beautiful, sunny, late-fall weather, iconic of the Great Northwest. During the second half of the trip, our luck changed. One morning we woke to rain. The type of rain that is also iconic of the Great Northwest, but in a very different way. Heavens-opening-up-on-you rain. You-might-as-well-be-in-a-swimming-pool rain. Stay-inside-and-listen-to-it-thunder-on-the-roof rain.

But we were trying to make it to San Francisco for the Divine Play acroyoga festival and needed to stay on schedule. So we rode. We rode 10 miles to the nearest town for breakfast at a cafe and dined, already soaked to the bone. Staying optimistic for the first half of the day that maybe it would let up at least a little, we pushed through for another 5 hours or so, and realized at 4pm that we hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. Had it really been 5 hours? We'd been waiting for it to stop raining but it never had. We snacked quickly under a road overpass and made the decision to stay at a hotel that night. We then rode another hour or more until we found a small inn that wasn't too expensive.

We arrived, soaked through, shivering, hungry, tired, and cold, cold, cold. The owner of the inn was so kind to us. We asked if they had a dryer we could dry our sopping cycling clothes in, and he offered to take them for us and do it himself. An hour later he brought them to our door, and announced he had went ahead and washed them for us as well. He also brought us extra towels, not showing any sign that he was worried we'd grow a pond of mildew overnight in his room. We were exhausted as we hung up all our other dripping gear over the chairs, the ceiling fan, the doors, and anything else we could find.

Luckily we had two things: first, a pint of Häagen-Dazs ice cream we'd picked up at a convenience store a half-mile before the hotel, and second, the last of a gallon-sized bag of salmon chowder we'd already used for a couple dinners. We downed the whole pint of ice cream as a pre-dinner snack and cooked up a huge pot of this chowder, simmering it on our pocket-rocket on the front stoop outside our room, the sky still drizzling away. We ate it on the hotel bed watching episodes of Human Planet (if you haven't seen these shows, you should definitely check them out, they're pretty incredible). Rich and dense, it picked us up from the day behind and fueled us for the next day, which started with the biggest climb of the trip.

For 2 people

4 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 TB dried dill
1 5-oz. can of clams
1 5-oz. can of wild-caught salmon or tuna
1/2 bag frozen peas
1 14-oz. can full-fat coconut milk
sea salt to taste
coconut flour or amaranth flour for thickening

In a large soup pot over medium-low heat, cook the bacon until the fat begins to release. Add onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf, and dill. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.
Add clams and salmon (add the juices, too!) and cook a few more minutes until heated through.
Stir in the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and let cook about 10 minutes. Stir in peas just before turning of the heat.

Before dehydrating:
Allow soup to cool and check consistency. If it is very thin, it might need some thickening. We've used both coconut flour and amaranth flour (amaranth isn't technically paleo, but it's pretty tasty and I feel good about using it). Start with a small amount (about 1/4 cup) and stir it in completely before adding more. Coconut flour especially has a tendency to soak up liquid and make things really dry.

Let cool about 20 minutes, then spread on dehydrator trays covered in parchment paper and dehydrate 8-12 hours at 150 F, checking several times during this process to break up clumps and turn over. More dehydrating directions found here.

Before dehydrating

After dehydrating

To rehydrate:
Throw it all in a pot, add water until just covered, and let it soak for as long as you have. When ready to cook, bring to a boil (you might have to add more water after soaking) and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, cover pot with lid and let sit for another 5-10 minutes. Open and enjoy!

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