I don't recall when I first tasted this comforting soup chock-full of tender mollusks. However, what I do know are my three favorite clam chowder experiences. Clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl from Boudin's Bakery - eating in the sunshine on San Francisco's Pier 39 with my family. Hovered over a large mug of clam "chowda" outside of Faneuil Hall Marketplace in the heart of Boston on a very very cold November Day, trying to stay warm with Mr.P. And lastly, at the Maine Diner in Wells, Maine - there's nothing like it, not even close. Clam chowder is a cream-based wonder, briny with clam liquor, smoky with bacon, and containing, ideally, a high ratio of clams - fresh if you've got 'em - to potato chunks. It's very much a regional food, differing from state to state, but loved by all Americans. This soup is so comforting and flavorful, just right for a cold and rainy day! ENJOY!
NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER
MAKES 4 HEARTY SERVINGS
- 4 center-cut bacon strips
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 cup water
- 1 bottle (8 ounces) clam juice
- 3 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules or 3 chicken bouillon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 4 cans (6-1/2 ounces each) whole or chopped clams, undrained - 3, 10oz. cans of Crown Prince whole wild caught clams if you can find them; strained through cheesecloth to remove any residual sand.
- Parsley, chopped; optional
- In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain; set aside. Saute celery and onion in the drippings until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the potatoes, water, clam juice, bouillon, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
- In a small bowl, combine flour and 1 cup half-and-half until smooth. Gradually stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.
- Stir in clams and remaining half-and-half; heat through (do not boil). Crumble the reserved bacon; sprinkle over each serving along with parsley.
Mr.P likes his with a few fresh clams served on top. You can pick them up at most grocery stores.
If you'd like to try using a bread bowl to serve up your chowder, it's as easy as can be. Buy four round sourdough bread rolls at your local grocery store or bakery. If they are not all ready hollowed out, slice off the top and pull the bread from the center of each loaf, make sure you leave two inches all around the outside. Place them on a cookie sheet and crisp in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes at 350 degrees F. Set them aside and when your chowder is ready fill bread bowls - YUM!
~THE DOMESTIC CURATOR~