As the cold days of January roll in, my thoughts go to a great hot bowl of soup that can serve as a starter or a meal. My brother had a restaurant on the coast of Maine where one of his cooks created this chowder that has been a staple in his kitchens for the past 30 years. I’m thinking of a bowl of it right now. The recipe says you can use canned clams and you can…it will still be awesome, however use fresh, reserve the liquor and see the difference.
- 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped fine
- 2 medium carrots chopped fine
- 2 medium sticks of celery chopped fine
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 12 ounces sliced hickory smoked bacon
- 2/3 cup of bottled clam juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 7 oz of canned clams with juice
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Make a roux… place and melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan and slowly stir in the flour whisk it together with the butter until it is well incorporated and begins to bubble then use a rubber spatula and scrap from the pan and set aside.
In a heavy bottom pot cook the bacon, set it on paper towels when cooked and let it cool. Crumble it at this time. Reserve the bacon fat and add the potatoes to pan and begin to cook about 3 minutes then add the onion, carrots and celery and cook another 4 minutes together. Continue cooking until the potatoes begin to brown and then add the spices and the broth from the bottle and any from the can or fresh clams.
Cook this together until the broth is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Pour in the heavy cream and milk and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook to tender the ingredients and vegetables, about 15 minutes. Then slowly stir in the roux a little at a time to get the desired thickness, I like it loose and a little brothy, not so the spoon stands up in the middle of the soup. Then add your clams, bacon and S&P simmer another few minutes.
Add some crusty French or Italian bread with a bit of butter and it makes a great winter time starter or main dish.