After 4 1/2 years of living in the Bay Area, I've learned that traditional weather patterns and seasons mean absolutely nothing here. Having moved up from LA, where really only summer and fall exist, I was excited to have months upon months of cold and foggy mornings that led into rainy and stormy afternoons. This year however, winter seemed to skip Northern California entirely. As the rest of the country suffered through the polar vortex, we were spending our days in short-sleeved shirts, dying for even just a few droplets of precipitation. By February, my skin was so scaly that I was sure I had morphed into a reptile. We waited and waited, and tried to stay optimistic, but nothing came. When the asparagus and strawberries started popping up at markets months before they were due, my heart sank for my beloved home state.
And then somehwere in the middle of March, the rain finally came. For two weeks it felt as if buckets were being poured from the sky. We spent most of those days inside, gazing out our windows in amazement. It wasn't enough to repair the damage that had already been done, but it was something and it felt like not all hope had been lost. It rained again a teensy bit earlier in the week, and not knowing if this could possibly be the last of it, I figured I'd make some chowder before summer's official arrival. Chowder and rain are as good a match as peanut butter and jelly; it really doesn't get much better.
Maybe it's because I grew up eating the stuff, but man do I have a special place in my heart (or, stomach) for Mexican chorizo. Before this post a few years back, the purist in me had never even thought to use it in anything other than refried beans or scrambled eggs. That one little mistake opened me up to a whole new world of possibilities. Mexican chorizo is great for so much more than just beans and eggs! If you live in Oakland and you've been here, then you know that the stuff was practically MADE for a big old pot of mac n' cheese. I've been on a mission to incorporate it in a variety of recipes ever since. And in this batch of chowder, it most definitely did not disappoint.
Chorizo, Broccoli + Chèvre Chowder
1/2 lb. of quality ground Mexican Chorizo
1 large shallot, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
6 broccolini stalks, chopped (you can use regular broccoli, this is just what I had on hand)
2 large red potatoes, chopped
4 c. of chicken stock
1/2 c. of heavy cream
2-3 tbsp. of crumbled Chèvre (depending on how goat-y you want it, you can always add more)
2 tbsp. of chopped Italian parsley
Salt + Pepper
Brown your chorizo in a small amount of Olive Oil (chorizo is quite fatty, so you don't need to add too much oil). Once it's cooked, remove the meat from the pot, reserving the oil. Sauté your shallot, garlic and broccolini in the reserved oil on medium-low heat until the veg starts to caramelize a bit. Add your stock and potatoes, and simmer until both the potatoes and broccolini are fork tender. Make sure not to take this step too far because overcooked broccoli is disgusting. Take half of your soup and puree it in a food processor. Add the pureed half back to your pot and mix both batches together. Of course, if you like a smoother chowder, you can puree all of the soup. Add the chorizo back to the pot, along with the chopped parsley and heavy cream. Finish it off with your chèvre, giving it a slight stir. Season to taste.
Quick note: Traditionally, a roux is used to thicken chowders. That could certainly be done with this soup and would in no way impair it, but I find that potatoes are starchy enough to do the trick.