Savory Valentine’s Fare and A Tablescape


I’ve noticed that there have been many, many sweet treats shared at various of the blog parties that I frequent that are in keeping with Valentine’s Day.  I want to offer some savory Valentine’s food as an alternative.



I wanted some food that looked red and white, but wanted to break away from some of the more traditional foods that I could think of off the top of my head.  I also wanted to use what I had on hand, because I didn’t have time to run to the store.


Today I’ve got my recipe for Creamy Clam Chowder with Paprika Croutons.  Fairly quick to put together, and very tasty.  I find that the addition of the thyme helps to heighten the flavor of the sherry in the recipe, and sets off the clams nicely.


Creamy Clam Chowder with Paprika Croutons

Makes:  approximately 6 cups

Prep and cook time:  Approximately 35 minutes


2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 slice bacon

1/2 a medium onion, chopped fine

1 bay leaf, fresh or dried

2 Tablespoons white unbleached flour

1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme

3 cups chicken stock (if you have it, you could do half clam or seafood stock and half chicken stock)

1/4 cup dry cooking sherry

2 cups half and half

1 1/4 cups small-diced potatoes

2 cans minced clams with juice

2 Tablespoons chopped parsley

salt and black pepper to taste

For the Paprika Croutons:

2 slices sourdough bread (day-old is fine for this)

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon paprika

a little salt and pepper to taste

1.  Heat the butter in a soup pot over medium heat.  Fry the bacon, remove it from the pot when done, crumble it and set it aside.  Add the onion and bay leaf to the pot and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often, and add the garlic for the last minute of cooking time.  Sprinkle the white flour over the onions, along with the Old Bay Seasoning and thyme, and use a whisk to mix in all the flour and let it cook for 2 minutes more.  Whisk in the chicken stock, cooking until the broth begins to thicken a little, about 5 minutes.  Stir in half and half slowly, the juice from the canned clams (reserve the clams themselves until later), sherry, and the diced potatoes.  Raise the heat to high, continue stirring and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat immediately so that it simmers.  Let it simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender, stirring often.  Add the clams and heat through, 3 more minutes.  Add the chopped parsley and bacon, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

2.  To make the croutons, melt the butter.  While the butter melts, cut the sourdough into a dice, and place in a medium bowl.  Drizzle the melted butter over the sourdough bread cubes and sprinkle with the paprika, tossing to combine everything well.  Place the croutons on a parchment paper-lined small baking sheet, and toast them in a 250-degree F oven until toasted.

This is nice as a first course to a larger meal, or a great meal in itself when served with a green salad and rolls alongside, as well as your favorite Valentine’s sweet treat for dessert.

I created a Valentine’s setting for the soup and croutons:



Everything, with the exception of the placemats and tablecloth, are thrifted items.  I picked up the rooster salt and pepper shakers for $1.50, and the bottom rose flower plate for $1 at the Salvation Army Thrift Store on their half-price day.  The rose flower plate has the marking “Waverly Garden Room Vintage Rose” on the back.  On top of the Waverly plate is a small Johnson Brothers transferware plate that is part of the “Old Britain Castles” pattern–I love anything Johnson Brothers!  The mug is from a set I got a few years ago from Goodwill, as is the soup spoon.  The napkin is one of the flour sack kitchen towels that they used to sell at Dollar Tree (I wish they would bring those back!), and the pink bowl holding the croutons is another Goodwill find from a while back.  The plate under that is a Ballard Designs saucer–I got 3 for $1 at the same Salvation Army sale!  The placemats I got for $1 each at HomeGoods on sale.




Do you have some special savory foods that you like to serve for Valentine’s Day?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments, so stop by for a visit!


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Thank you so much for your friendship and support–I appreciate it!

Till next time, 

I’m participating at:

It’s Party Time at Setting For Four

Be Inspired Link Party at Elizabeth & Co.

Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

Tabletop Tuesday at A Stroll Through Life

Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life

Tutorials, Tips and Tidbits at Stone Gable

Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps On The Porch

Catch as Catch Can at My Repurposed Life

Seasonal Sundays at The Tablescaper

Home Stories A2Z

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special


Be Inspired Friday at Common Ground


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About AthenaMG

Athena McElrath is a Master Gardener with a love for gardening, decorating and cooking inexpensively. She enjoys working out in her urban garden in Southwest Washington State, watching the hummingbirds and other birds and insects, eating the wonderful vegetables, fruits and herbs that she produces from her garden, and just having a great time hanging out under the pergola with her family and friends (that is, whenever it stops raining long enough).
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18 Responses to Savory Valentine’s Fare and A Tablescape

  1. Lovely, I especially enjoy that you also thrift many of your decor items! However I can’t wait to make your herb based chowder recipe, it sounds so good. Thanks!

  2. It looks yummy. Are you really a fan of Johnson Bros? Then you might get jealous because I bought a whole Rose Chintz service last weekend. It was second-hand, well third-hand actually and not very expensive. I’m in love with it, drinking tea from one of the teacup as I read your post! I noticed you’ve done a lot of work on your blog. I’m going to love the “Monthly Garden Lists”.

  3. Mel says:

    That chowder looks amazing! Sadly my tablescape with 5 kids is no where near as pretty as that – and it cost more (can I rant about the price of baby goods!) I need to hit the thrift stores!

  4. Oh this sounds soooooo good. I have such a cold and some wonderful soup would be perfect. Thanks for the recipe. Thanks also for joining TTT. Hugs, Marty

  5. I’m a Johnson Brothers lover, too!!! You put together a really nice place setting! And mmmmmmmm…..clam chowder!!! We woke up to sub-zero temps this morning, so that sounds EXTRA good!!!! Wow for your homemade croutons, too!!!

  6. FABBY says:

    mmm, yummyclam chowder in the beautiful china! Thanks for the recipe, and for the croutons..sounds great! Thank you for your sweet and kind comments. Hugs,

  7. It looks delicious! And the tablescape is lovely; reminds me of my days in England.

    Stopping by from French Country Cottage.

  8. Hi Minerva,

    You’ve created such a pretty table setting for your delicious soup and homemade croutons! Everything looks lovely! Don’t you love to find a good bargain? It looks like you’re a very savvy bargain shopper. :)

    I, too, love Johnson Brothers dishes. I have the “Pink Castles” pattern and “His Majesty” for Thanksgiving. The Pink Castle dishes are wonderful because they’re very versatile.

    Have a wonderful weekend!


  9. I have never made clam chowder before…but your recipe looks easy and yummy. And so does your presentation.

  10. Emily says:

    Thanks for sharing your recipe, it sounds great! Love the tablescape, pink castles are one of my favorites and your setting is lovely. I also enjoy serving soups in oversized cups.

    The French Hutch

  11. Betsy says:

    Your soup looks delicious. It’s a dark and rainy day here…perfect for homemade soup.

  12. Mid-Atlantic Martha says:

    This soup looks so good — I could just dive right in!

  13. Donna Heber says:

    Hi Athena,

    As the snow falls from heaven right now clam chowder soup sounds delicious! Your Johnson Brothers transferware plate is so lovely. I like the way you have paired the two patterns together.

  14. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. says:

    How pretty and yummy looking! I could eat soup every day, especially if it was served like this!

  15. nicole says:

    Yum! Wow! You just whipped this up?!? I will have to take note of this one! Beautiful table as well lady!!!!

  16. Oh yum! I love clam chowder!!