This Southwestern Clam Chowder recipe takes one of our New England favorites and gives it a spicy Southwestern twist with roasted Poblano peppers and fire roasted tomatoes.
Years ago I had the most delicious Southwestern Clam Chowder at a restaurant. While this recipe is in honor of my very fond memory of that wonderful soup, it’s not a ringer for it. The soup I remember was more chipotle based, and had a smoother texture. But the flavors stuck in my mind, and finally this winter I started playing around with the recipe idea.
I tend to make at least one soup a week. We usually have it for dinner one night…as long as the kids don’t get ahold of it first. Then the leftovers get repurposed for lunches or snacks throughout the week. This Southwestern Clam Chowder soup went fast. There are only three of us in the house right now, and it still was completely gone within a day.
SOUTHWESTERN CLAM CHOWDER
If you’re new to my recipe blog, you’ll soon learn that I have a bit of an addiction to Southwestern, Tex-Mex, and Mexican flavors. Maybe it’s my roots growing up in Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada. Those types of flavors are on the menu here at least once a week. One of my favorites is these Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas! And if you like fajitas, you HAVE to try this homemade Fajita Seasoning recipe…it always gets rave reviews! It’s one of my most popular recipes!
But today we’re talking about taking a classic New England recipe and giving it a Southwestern twist!
You can use Hatch Green Chiles, Anaheim, or Poblanos for my Southwestern Clam chowder. I used Poblanos because that’s usually what is most readily available to me here. Poblano chiles are darker green and are mild to medium in heat. They deliver a little bit of a kick, but they’re definitely on the milder side. Here they are, ready to go into the oven for roasting.
Let’s get started on roasting the peppers. You’re going to want to preheat your oven at high heat, because you’re going to be broiling these. While you’re waiting for your oven to get hot, you can rinse and dry your peppers well, then place them on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Keep an eye on them while they’re in the oven. Once they have blackened on one side, go ahead and flip them over with a pair of tongs. After both sides are blackened, remove them from the oven and place them in a small paper bag and fold over the top to close the bag. They’ll be letting off some steam in the bag, and it will make it easier to peel the skin. Once they have cooled, you can cut the stem off and slice the pepper lengthwise, and remove the seeds from the inside. Then peel the skin from the chiles and chop coarsely. You can do this ahead of time. I roasted a few extra and used them in another dish as well. You can also freeze any extra. They’re a nice addition to many Mexican dishes.
Now we’re ready to get started on the soup. Melt the butter in the soup pot over medium heat; add the chopped onion and once it starts to turn translucent, then add the minced garlic. Add the flour; stir well to combine. Gradually whisk in the water and clam juice. Then add the potatoes, fire roasted tomatoes, roasted Poblano peppers, and the chipotle pepper in adobo. You’re going to let this cook for about 10 minutes or so until the potatoes soften. Turn the heat to medium low, and add the clams, including the juice in the cans, and the corn. Cook for a few minutes longer.
Remove about a half of a cup of the hot liquid from the soup, and slowly add the cream to it, stirring the entire time, to temper the cream. Then you can add the warm cream to the soup. This is to avoid having it curdle.
Remove the soup from heat and add the lime juice and cilantro. Garnish with additional cilantro and chopped green onions and serve!
THE CASE FOR CREAM AND HIGHER FAT DAIRY
I used light cream in this recipe. Light cream is about 20% fat. I also often use heavy cream in soups, and there is no reason why you couldn’t use it in this one.
We’ve been told through the years that eating full fat dairy is bad for our health…that it leads to weight gain and even obesity. I remember when my children came home from school and informed me that we needed to start drinking skim milk because the whole milk we were drinking was too fattening and bad for us. I explained to them that I felt the nutrition recommendations from their teachers were misguided and that I wasn’t making that change in our diet. I’ve never felt the need to limit healthy fats from our diet. In general, I’ve always trusted that cooking with real food and minimally processed ingredients is the key to healthy living.
Now evidence reflecting the food practices we have subscribed to all along is emerging. Interestingly enough, there is now research that suggests that people who eat more full fat dairy tend to be leaner than those who opt for low fat dairy, as well as having lower rates of diabetes. Foods higher in fat tend to fill us up quicker, which helps prevent overeating. Additionally, when people cut fat out of their diet, they have a tendency to to increase their consumption of sugars and carbohydrates (which the body converts to sugar). Many of us struggle with our weight as we grow older, but a long term study of middle-aged women by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a category which I am now a part of, found that those who eat a diet including high fat versus low fat dairy were less likely to become overweight as they age.
So evidence is starting to suggest that there is a place for full fat dairy in our diets, and that our health would benefit from a variety of dairy sources, rather than simply restricting ourselves to low fat.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes using cream:
Ready to start cooking?
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 bottles clam juice, 8 oz
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 lbs of red bliss potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces
- 1 can fire roasted tomatoes, 10 oz
- 1 cup roasted Poblano peppers, chopped
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped
- 3 cans of chopped clams, 6.5 oz each (do not drain)
- 1 cup corn (frozen or cut from cob)
- 1 cup light cream
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- chopped cilantro and chopped green onions for garnish (optional)
Preheat your broiler.
While you're waiting for the oven to get hot, rinse and dry your peppers well, then place them on a baking sheet lined with tin foil.
Once blackened on one side, flip with a pair of tongs, and blacken on the other side.
Remove from oven; place in paper bag, fold the top, allowing the peppers to steam inside.
Once peppers have cooled, cut the stem off, slice the pepper lengthwise, and remove the seeds from the inside. Then peel the skin from the chiles and chop coarsely. Set aside until ready to add to soup.
Melt the butter in the soup pot over medium heat; add the chopped onion and once it starts to turn translucent, then add the minced garlic. Once garlic turns fragrant, add the flour a little at a time; stir to combine.*
Gradually whisk in bottled clam juice and water.
Add potatoes, fire roasted tomatoes, roasted Poblanos, and chipotle pepper in adobo. Cook for about 10 minutes until potatoes soften.
Then add the clams (including juice from the cans) and corn. Turn the soup down to medium low and continue to cook for a few minutes.
Temper the cream by taking about a half of a cup of hot liquid out of the soup pot and slowly add the cream to it, stirring as you do so. Add the tempered cream back into the soup pot.
Remove from heat and add the lime juice and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with additional cilantro and chopped green onions when serving.
*Typically a roux is equal amounts fat and flour. Feel free to add more flour for thicker chowder to the butter/onion/garlic mixture for a true roux.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 484Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 1138mgFiber: 5gSugar: 7gProtein: 33g