Who doesn’t love some freshly made New England Clam Chowder?!? It amazes me that canned soup companies can even sell this stuff in a can, because man, that stuff is nasty! People probably just don’t know how much better it is when it’s made from scratch. But like always, it’s SO worth taking the time to do so, because frankly, this recipe is fairly quick and unbelievably easy. Here I used fresh clams, but a lot of recipes I’ve seen used canned clams, so you could use those to shortcut the recipe a bit if you’re willing to trade flavor for time. Also, I didn’t thicken the broth at all. There’s already plenty of heartiness from the potatoes, and I tend not to like flour thickened foods. Here’s how to make some fresh New England Clam Chowder:
3 dozen littleneck clams
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup bottled clam juice
2 cups chopped yellow onion
4 oz bacon
4-6 small red potatoes, diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch of cayenne
chopped fresh parsley
Soak the littleneck clams in salted ice water for 30 minutes so they spit out any sand they may have inside. Drain, and scrub the clams well:
In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the clams and the wine. Cover and cook until the clams open, which should only take 3-4 minutes. If any refuse to open, cook them for a minute or two longer (sometimes they are just stubborn), but if they don’t open after that, throw them away. Remove the clams from the liquid, and strain the liquid through a sieve lined with cheesecloth so we only get the juices and leave any sand behind. Add the bottled clam juice to your fresh clam juice liquid.
Remove the clam meat from the clam shells and chop the meat up into small bits.
In a large pot, crisp the bacon over medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove the bacon and throw the onions in the pan. Chop the bacon into small pieces, then return the bacon to the pot. Cook for 10 minutes until the onions have softened, scraping up any brown bits along the way.
Add the clam liquid, and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the potatoes for 10-15 minutes (uncovered) until almost cooked through. Add the chopped clams, as well as the cream. Add the pinch of cayenne, and season the liquid to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley as desired. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Appetizers.