Week 2 of Spice Month: Time for Thyme!
Would you believe dried thyme inched out turmeric for this weeks Spice month recipe?! I was surprised but for those looking for some turmeric inspiration, you’re up next week.
Nutritionally speaking, thyme is a nutrient dense herb. Just two teaspoons of dried thyme is an excellent source for vitamin K, iron, maganese (important for the production of breast milk and sex hormones) and is a good source for calcium & fiber. As a tea, thyme has beneficial results in gastrointestinal problems by acting as a digestive aid AND its been known to relieve hangovers. (Why am I just finding this out now?) Turns out insects don’t like thyme so planting some in your garden can help keep the insect population down. That said, I just found a natural repellent made with thyme so I’ll let you know how that works out.
Good to note, dried herbs are one of those things in your spice rack that need to be kept for only a short period of time unlike some other spices, which can be kept for up to 1 year. I would change them out every six months so you can get some flavor from them otherwise they just end up tasting like grass. That might work if you’re a cow but not for cooking me thinks. You can certainly use fresh herbs for dried or vice versa–just use this conversion: 1 tbsp fresh = 1 tsp dried.
Chowders are usually made from a roux but in this case I substituted the butter for canola oil because canola oil is not only low in saturated fat but it’s high in monounsaturated fat — a good thing! Monounsaturated fats benefit heart health. I’m not a fan of cream and/or butter in my cooking and to be honest I don’t eat them either but I do love chowder so this is my version of a healthy, no cream or butter version.
30 Littleneck clams (5.5 lbs)
1 cup white wine
1 tbsp dried thyme
4 tbsp canola oil
1 cup white onion – fine dice
2 cloves garlic – minced
1 cup leeks – whites only – thinly sliced, washed
1 cup celery – fine dice, washed
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups fat-free milk
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 ears of corn in the husks – Soak the ears in water for at least 2 hours (up to 4) and throw on a preheated grill. Cook for 20 minutes until husks are charred. Yields: 3 1/2 cups kernels, approx.
NOTE: By soaking the husks first it prevents them from going up in flames. The corn kernels will steam inside the husks.
1 1/2 tbsp thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cups yams – peeled, cubed
1 cup fresh tomato – diced
1/4 cup fresh basil – chiffonade
3 tbsp fresh chives – fine chop
I made a handy video about chopping herbs, have a look.
To cook clams: Preheat a large saucepan for 30 seconds. Add clams, wine and thyme. Cover. Cook over high heat until all the shells are open
about 3-4 minutes. Strain clams into a colander over a large bowl retaining clam liquid. Set aside.
NOTE: Because of the large clam shells steam them in 2 batches as I did. Even if they all fit into your pot you must leave room for the shells to open when steamed.
To cook Chowder: Preheat soup pot on medium low heat for 1 minute. Add canola oil. Add onion, garlic, leek, celery, bay leaf and thyme and saute for 5-6 minutes until softened.
Add flour and whisk continuously for 2 minutes.
Add broth, clam juice, milk and bring to a boil, whisking.
When corn is cooked remove husks and discard. Cut kernels from cobs and place cobs in soup pot along with soup mixture.
Add diced yams and corn kernels. Simmer chowder on medium low heat, partially covered for 20 minutes.
To Finish: Add diced fresh tomatoes, chives and basil.
Other healthy chowders also featured:
All recipes are made with the finest quality farmers market whole foods, natural and non-processed ingredients as much as possible.