May 29, 2012

new england clam chowder

As I was applying for May's 24x24, I decided to plan a meal around regional dishes that are popular around the country.  I wanted a soup course for the meal, so I thought of New England Clam Chowder.

I have no idea why.  I've definitely never made it before and had barely even tasted it.  I wasn't even completely convinced that I liked clams.  But, I'd committed to it and had to figure out how to make it and make it well.

I found a recipe that looked pretty easy to follow and called for canned clams.  That's a good thing, considering I would have no idea what to do if you put a fresh clam in front of me.

So, with the help of my sister, we put together this clam chowder for the dinner party.  We made a few minor adaptations to the recipe, but generally stuck to the original.

Despite our clam chowder insecurities, it turned out great.  I actually think it was my favorite part of the meal.  The chowder turned out creamy, savory and delicious.  This recipe will likely become a new staple at our house. 

So, go crazy.  Try something new.  You never know what might be a surprising hit.

New England Clam Chowder
Recipe adapted from
Serves 6

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 4 Idaho potatoes
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 c vegetable broth
  • 3 (8 oz) cans chopped clams in juice
  • 1 c half & half
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh parsley, for garnish
First, finely dice the onion and put it in a medium-sized bowl.  Clean and quarter the stalks of celery (without the leaves) then cut the strips into 1/2" pieces.  Add the celery to the bowl.  Peel and dice (about 1/2" cubes) the potatoes and add them to the bowl.

Heat the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the bowl of onions, celery and potatoes to the melted butter.  Saute the veggies until the onion and celery start to soften, mixing it often.  Add the flour and stir it in well to distribute it in the veggies.  Pour in the vegetable broth, the juice from the cans of clams (set clams aside to add later), the half and half, and the bay leaves.  Bring the soup to a boil, stirring often.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the soup has thickened and the potatoes have softened.  Add the clams and salt and pepper (as necessary).  Cook the clams in the soup for only about 2 more minutes, just until they're firm.  If you cook them too long, they'll become too firm.  Remove the bay leaves from the soup before serving and garnish soup with fresh parsley.  Serve hot with Texas Toast or Cheddar Bay Biscuits.

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