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I love, love, love soup. Especially the creamy, chowder-y kind filled with bacon and chunks of potatoes that are like a warm, comforting hug when you eat them. New England Clam Chowder (that’s the white and creamy one) and Loaded Potato Soup are probably my top two favorites. There’s a couple of soups I make that I kind of sigh with happiness over when there’s some in the refrigerator the next morning (and then eat for breakfast because I can’t wait for lunch). This is that soup.
I’ve been making this recipe for New England Clam Chowder for probably a good 15 years now. It’s delicious… all of the flavors meld beautifully. You can taste the briny clam juice flavor, the salty, smoky delightfulness that is bacon (want to learn how to cook bacon perfectly, every time?), the depth of flavor brought in by the wine. The coolness of the light cream, the denseness of perfectly cooked tiny chunks of potato in your mouth. It’s kinda perfect.
Except for one thing… it’s not a healthy soup by anyone’s standard. New England Clam Chowder is an indulgent soup because of the ingredients. But you know what? Once in a while it’s ok to step aside and treat yourself to something that just tastes wonderful! (I’m hoping everyone reads this recipe except Sarah, my OTF trainer! :))
And if your kids are iffy about soup, cream soups like clam chowder and loaded potato soup are a good way to introduce them. The texture of these soups seems to be more ok with kids than some others like vegetable or bean soups, much as I love those, too.
How to make New England Clam Chowder
Have you ever heard the term mise en place? (MEEZ ahn plahs) It’s a French term used in cooking and it means to have everything in it’s place. In the cooking world, it means to have your ingredients prepped first so the cooking portion is effortless. In this recipe, it’s helpful to chop all of your ingredients before you get started, so, clearly there’s a fair bit of chopping tonight, gang.
Let’s mise en place the following:
And please keep in mind, small dice your ingredients, because you want everything to be the “perfect mouthful” sized.
- 5 slices bacon, chopped
- 1/2-1 onion, diced (you decide, it depends on how big and how pungent your onion is)
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 potatoes, diced mouthful sized
Still with me? All diced? Good job!
Now that everything is diced, you want to place a large stockpot over medium heat. Add butter and when melted cook bacon until crispy, stirring constantly. The original recipe called for a stick of butter. If you want to use the whole stick I say GO FOR IT. Because I’ll never tell. Plus, it’s delicious. If not, use 1/4 stick.
Add your diced onions, celery and garlic, sautéing until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. (Cut your bacon smaller than I did. The onions and celery were the perfect mouth-size though).
Add 1 cup of flour. Shake in half and mix it in. Then shake in the other half and mix it in. This is a really important step! It needs to be well-incorporated and it needs to cook at least 60 seconds so it doesn’t taste “raw” in the next step.
Add the wine and allow it to cook at least a minute. It’ll mix into the flour/vegetable mixture and that is ok.
Add the chicken stock (I always use Swanson) and clam juice (I used Cerulean Seas, from Harris Teeter, for the first time and it added GREAT flavor).
Add your diced potatoes and stir well.
Add the thyme (if you have fresh, I beg you, use it) otherwise dried is fine. I LOVE thyme in cream soups.
Add the bay leaves and salt and pepper. S&P is really important in recipes. Taste, taste, taste and add more as needed.
Add clams (I used minced clams… if you’re using fresh, I applaud you, yum) and light cream. Heat for about 5 minutes.
Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve with toasted bread and butter. This is New England Clam Chowder… what do you think?
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