The days are getting a little bit warmer and the sun’s staying out a little bit longer, but I’m still feeling the leftover chill of winter. We’ve been taking Winston out on lots of windy walks lately and I find the best way to warm up afterwards is with a steaming hot bowl of soup. I pretty much like all soups, while my boyfriend is much more turf than surf. Oh well, more for me! This simple New-England Style chowder with a small sprinkling of clams, celery and potatoes reminds me of all good things to come.
The first home-made clam chowder I ever had actually wasn’t New-England style (gasp!) It was a Manhattan clam chowder: all tomato-y, spicy, and decidedly un-creamy. Personally, I lean more towards New-England style clam chowder if I have the choice… I love the creaminess with the salty sea taste of the clams. I do think that mine is pretty darn good but I have to say, my Mommy Dearest makes the best chowders. It may have something to do with her living on the East Coast of Canada and having the freshest seafood or it may just be a few culinary secrets she keeps tucked up her sleeve.
Add some toasted or grilled bread for dipping and you’re all set! Although I have to say that I am a sucker for bread bowls and I admit I will take the time to make one when having chowder, just because it feels right. This is an easy, quick, spring version with lots of vegetables and just enough clams to make this soup light and refreshing.
Here is what you will need:
♥ 6 slices of thick cut bacon (not cooked but chopped)
♥ 4 tablespoons of butter
♥ 2 stalks of celery – finely chopped
♥ 1 cup of leeks – finely sliced
♥ 1 medium yellow onion – finely chopped
♥ 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning
♥ 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
♥ 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
♥ 1 teaspoon of black pepper
♥ 1/2 cup of flour
♥ 10oz (2 cans) of whole baby clams (save the juice from the cans!)
♥ 32oz of chicken stock
♥ 2 bay leaves
♥ 4 medium sized russet potatoes
♥ 1 cup of parsley – finely chopped
♥ 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh thyme
♥ 2 cups of half & half
♥ 1 teaspoon of salt
Here is what you will need to do:
♥ Using a Dutch Oven, over medium heat, fry the chopped bacon. Once cooked, remove the bacon and set aside. Remove and dispose of the bacon grease from dutch oven.
♥ In the Dutch Oven again, melt the butter and sauté the onion, leeks and celery until soft.
♥ Add the Old Bay seasoning, garlic powder, Italian herbs, and black pepper. Blend in the flour. (The flour mixture should stick together and be clumpy)
♥ Open the cans of clams and pour clam liquid into a liquid measuring cup. It should be about 1 and ¼ cups of clam liquid. Set both the liquid and the clams aside.
♥ Gradually add the chicken stock and the clam liquid into the Dutch Oven and whisk into the flour mixture until blended. Add the bay leaves and cubed potatoes as well. Bring the mix to a boil. Once bubbling, leave on the stove for 6-10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
♥ Turn the heat down to low and add the clams, parsley, and thyme. Stir together and then add the half & half and bacon and turn the heat back up to warm the soup. Continue stirring, let stand 10-15 minutes to thicken.
What is your holy grail soup for those chilly not-quite-winter-not-quite-spring nights? Are you a New-England chowder lover or a Manhattan style? You really can’t go wrong with either but I’d love to know your preference.
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