Thursday, November 03, 2011

Clam Chowder for a Snowy Day

As the weather has dramatically changed from a balmy Indian Summer, where the days are still in the mid 70 degrees and the nights dip to a crisp mid 30 degrees, to the normal October/November weather of sub freezing at night, snow and wind during the day......the mind drifts to soups, casseroles and stews.   Long slow cooking that keeps the house warm.  Long slow cooking that is also frugal and filling.

So today...

New England Style Clam Chowder

My soups are almost always in a free form style based on how much I have on hand and how many servings I want to end up with.  Soup, for some reason always ends up making way more than I need.  So instead of describing the recipe in,  about or approximately measures, I'll try to be a bit more precise.

3 small  (6.5 oz)cans of chopped clams (small cans because our store doesn't carry the large restaurant style and you want as many clams as you can in your chowder.  Otherwise, you might as well be making potato soup.)
3 to 4 slices of meaty bacon diced
4 to 6 small potatoes cut into 1/2 inch pieces (enough to make about 3 ro 4 cups  of diced potatoes.  Dang it! I wasn't going to give 'about' instructions)
1 cup of diced onion
1 stalk of diced celery
1 small carrot cut into small diced pieces (less than 1/2 inch.  You can leave off the carrots if you like or are a die hard traditionalist.  I like them)
Garlic or garlic granules  (Oh heck....about 1/2 tsp)
2 cups of milk (or 1 cup milk and 1 cup half and half or better yet whipping cream)
3 tbsp flour 
2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp dried parsley
Salt to taste

In a large stock pot saute the bacon until moderately crisp.  With a slotted spoon remove the bacon and leave the drippings in the stock pot.  Put in the onions and celery, salt, pepper and parsley.  Saute until soft and limp.  Add the flour and butter and stir, creating a roux.

Meanwhile drain the clams reserving the juice.  Add more water to equal 3 cups of juice and water.  Slowly stir into the onion, celery mixture.  Add the potatoes and carrots and let the soup simmer on low for about (darn it, I just can't help myself) 20 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots are just beginning to be tender.  You don't want to cook them to mush or else you WILL have cream of potato soup with clams in it.

At this point, you can stop and put the soup in the fridge for later or just plow on.   Add the clams and simmer for a few more minutes.  Slowly add the milk and bring to a slow simmer stirring frequently for 10 minutes or just until warm and thickened.

If you feel the soup is too thin, you can take some of the hot liquid and mix with another tbsp of flour and then return to the pot to simmer.  Be careful, you are making soup. NOT wall paper paste.

Serve with fresh rolls, or garlic bread sticks and a crisp green salad.

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