Conch chowder is an iconic soup that’s popular in Caicos and Turks Islands as well as the Bahamas. The conch is combined with celery, carrots, fresh herbs and onions. One could also add some hot sauce for an extra kick. Though the soup isn’t exclusively enjoyed by Bahamians, they seem to be the most famous for it.
First, one needs about ¾ pounds of conch meat. If fresh conch is hard to find, one can use canned or frozen conch meat. Other ingredients include a large onion, 2 celery stalks, 2 carrots, 1 large potato, 3 large tomatoes, 3 slices of smoked bacon, 2 limes, 1 bay leaf, 1 quart of water and a quarter teaspoon of dried thyme. If chili is to be added, one needs to clean, seed and dice it.
The prep time is about 30 minutes while cooking takes about an hour. This recipe is meant to yield about 4 to 6 servings. To begin, the fresh conch meat should be cleaned using lime juice. It should then be sliced into slices about half an inch in size.
In a stockpot, the conch meat should be placed in enough water to cover and brought to a simmer. If one is using fresh or frozen conch, it should be left to simmer for about 20 minutes. For canned meat, 10 minutes should be enough. The meat can then be removed and drained, but while keeping the cooking liquid.
The bacon should then be cooked in a large frying pan or skillet till most of the fat is removed. After this, one should add the carrots, potatoes, celery, chili pepper (optional) and onion to the bacon. It should be cooked for about 15 minutes to soften the veggies.
The skillet should then be removed from the heat to focus to the soup that contains the reserved fluid from cooking the conch. The sautéed bacon and veggies should be added to the pot. One can then add the tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme and water and cooked conch to the pot.
The chowder should be simmered for about an hour. One can adjust the seasonings to suit their premises. For smoother textured chowder, the soup can be blended in a mixer.
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