Autumn is knocking at the door which made it seem like a good week for some clam chowder.
I’ve shared a handful of soups with you before, French Onion, Cream of Mushroom, Pasta e Fagioli, Split Pea, and the feedback has been good. Thank you, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed them and I’m sure there will be more to come.
So, as you might imagine, fresh clams in Kansas can be a challenge.
But I found them. And there was no way I was paying that much. Necessity, mother of invention, and all that means canned.
You know we have to talk canned soups. Some are good, some I’d avoid.
The familiar red and white cans have modified food starch, MSG, Sodium Phosphate, Flavoring (whatever that is), Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, and the list goes on. So I’ll pass.
Bar Harbor, the white can which you can probably find locally, has a label I could like.
Fresh Clams, Potatoes, Water, Wheat Flour, Butter, Tapioca Starch, Onions, Salt & Spices
But it’s not the soup I want. I suppose I could doctor it up a bit but why not just make a pot?
As for the clams themselves, I chose the Crown Prince cans over the Chicken of the Sea (the only two in my local grocery stores). Clams and water vs. clams, water, salt, calcium disodium edta, disodium phosphate, etc.
How Big is a Potato?
I feel comfy enough to write recipes that call for a large egg or a medium onion but unless you’re baking them potatoes don’t work well that way. My chowder recipe calls for a pound of potatoes. The big one on the left is just over a pound all by itself. The three on the right are too. So I try to use weights or volumes (like cups etc.) when I can and when it matters.
In case you’re wondering, a pound of fresh clams equals about 6 ounces of meat which is just over 1 cup.
And a medium onion weighs about 8 ounces and is about 1 cup chopped.
A slice of bacon is about 1 ounce.
You get the idea.
These clams are packed in water that, after not too long a time, tastes a lot like clams. Go figure. Save that and add it to the soup! If yours are not then grab a bottle of clam juice too. Bar Harbor makes a good one — I have a couple in the pantry so I put one in the picture below. You can see, however, the roughly one cup of clam meat and one cup of liquid that came from the two cans. If you like your chowder more clammy than mine, feel free to add that bottle of juice too.
Getting your ingredients ready before you start cooking really helps.
- finely chop the onion and celery
- peel and dice the potatoes into half-inch pieces
- cut the bacon into half-inch lardons
- drain and save the juice from the clams
- rinse the clams well (says so right on the can to avoid shell fragments)
And ta-da, ready to go.
Put the potatoes in the pot, cover with cold water, a sprinkle of salt, and bring to a boil. Cook until they start to get tender but are still firm. Drain them and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking and set them aside.
Add the bacon to the pot and cook it until it just starts to get crisp.
Most of my older recipes call for salt pork, not bacon. This used to be pretty common and easy to get but it’s not seen too often anymore. At least nowhere I shop. That’s all right, I like the little bit of smoked flavor. Most of my bacon is from the local butcher (it’s terrific, it’s way cheaper, and I know where it comes from) but I can recommend Beeler’s and Niman Ranch if you’re buying it in the store.
Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Leave up to two tablespoons of the bacon fat in the pot.
Add the butter, onion, celery, and another sprinkle of salt and cook until the vegetables get tender.
Now add the liquids and bring to a boil. Add the clams, potatoes, and bacon and simmer for ten minutes stirring often.
That’s it. Short and sweet, no time at all.
If I have any leftovers, I use these containers to put them back. Freezer to microwave works pretty well.
Now go outside and enjoy the fall weather!
New England Clam Chowder is a perfect autumn soup and oh so easy to make. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.
- 1 pound potatoes, diced into ½ inch pieces
- 4 slices bacon
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, medium, chopped fine
- 2 celery stalks, chopped fine
- 1 cup clams
- 1 cup clam juice
- 2 cups whole milk
- salt and pepper to taste
Peel and dice the potatoes, finely chop the onion and celery, cut the bacon into ½ inch lardons, drain and save the clam juice, and rinse the clams to remove any shell fragments.
Cover the potatoes with cold water in the pot and sprinkle with a little salt. Bring to a boil and cook until just starting to tenderize. Drain and set aside.
Cook the bacon until just crisp. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels leaving one or two tablespoons of bacon fat in the pot.
Add the butter, onion, celery, and another sprinkle of salt. Cook until tender.
Add the clam juice and milk. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.
Add the clams, bacon, and potatoes. Simmer for ten minutes.