I love, I mean LOVE, New England clam chowder. A few weeks ago my very pregnant friend from MA mentioned she was craving it. She doesn't really like to cook and they don't do clam chowder in Ireland, so I thought I'd try my hand at making some and take it over to her. I hadn't had it in ages myself, so I thought this was a win win for both of us! After I started making it I panicked a little bit, wondering if this mid-Atlantic girl could pull off making this soup for a true New England connoisseur of the clam chowder. Fortunately, it turned out better than I expected!
There are a million recipes out there for this soup, calling for things like dill or celery. You can pick one really depending on your taste, but from what I could remember dill and celery aren't really authentic. After searching around quite a bit I ended up using a recipe from a Boston tourist site and can be found here. It's a simple soup to make with basic ingredients. Fresh clams are very expensive here, so I ended up just using tinned ones and it was still delicious. I made this the night before and it tasted even better the next day.
I tweaked the recipe a tiny bit, so here's my version using the tinned clams:
Approx. 1 cup tinned clams*, drain and save the juice
2 pieces of streaky bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 dried bay leaf
2 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups waxy potatoes, peeled and diced
3 tbsp flour
1 cup 2% or semi-skimmed milk
1 cup single cream
Salt to taste
Dash of cayenne
Heat up a sauce pan and fry the bacon until crispy. Add the onion, thyme, bay leaf, and butter. Once the butter melts, add the flour and stir until blended**. Once the onions are translucent, add in the reserved clam juice, diced potatoes, and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then turn down the heat to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are soft, 8-10 minutes. Once the potatoes are soft add in the cream and clams. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne, tasting until you get it just right to your liking.
That's it! Super easy! I just heated it through the next day and it was even more delicious than right after I made it. This made enough for the two of us to have a hearty lunch with some nice bread.
*Use more or less clams depending on how clammy you like it!
**Yeah, I messed up here. I forgot to put in the flour. So to thicken the soup I added cornstarch before adding the cream and clams. I just added a little bit at a time, eyeballing it until it was a nice thickness.