New England Clam Chowder
Our recipe for New England Clam Chowder is a lighter version than most because we substitute a combination of whole milk and half-and-half in place of heavy cream to cut the richness while keeping the same smooth, thick texture.
Topped with Pan-Toasted Croutons, crumbled bacon and a handful of fresh chopped chives, it really is a meal in a bowl.
Serve with salad and a full-bodied, oaky chardonnay
- 2 dozen top neck clams
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 lb bacon, chopped
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
- 4 small red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2-1/2 cups reserved clam juice
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1-1/2 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup half-and-half
- Few dashes of Tabasco (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped and divided
- Pan-toasted croutons (see below)
- Rinse the clams under cold running water to remove any exterior sand and place in a large pot. Add the wine and some cold water to 1/2-inch depth in the bottom of the pot.
- Cover, bring the liquid to a boil and cook just until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Removing the clams as they open with a pair of tongs keeps them from getting overcooked.
- Once all of the clams are cooked, strain the cooking liquid into a bowl and set aside (a coffee filter set into a large funnel works well for this).
- Remove the clams from their shells, chop roughly and set aside. You should have about 2 cups.
- Wipe out any excess liquid from the pan and add the chopped bacon. Fry over medium-high heat until crisp and brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and blot the excess fat. Crumble the bacon and set aside.
- Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan, lower the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes, then add the celery, carrots and potatoes.
- Continue cooking, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft and the potatoes are tender. Add the butter to the pan and combine well.
- Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture and toss until the vegetables are thoroughly coated. Cook, stirring constantly, until the flour coating has developed a golden color, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add 2-1/2 cups of the reserved clam cooking liquid to the vegetable mixture and stir. Cook until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Add the bay leaves, thyme, milk and half-and-half. Stir to combine, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped clams to the soup and cook for 2 minutes longer until they are heated through. Add the Tabasco, if desired, taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Stir in the parsley and 2 tablespoons of the chives.
- To serve, spoon the soup into 4 bowls, top with crumbled bacon, croutons and the reserved chopped chives.
How To Make Pan-Toasted Croutons:
Select an Italian or French bread with a moderately dense texture and light, crisp crust and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. You'll need 1-1/2 cups.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan over medium heat and stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Add the bread cubes, season with salt and pepper and toss until lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes.