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New England Clam Chowder

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Serves 8

Yields about 9 cups

  • To learn more, read:
    Stirring the Chowder Pot
  • by Allison Ehri Kreitler from Fine Cooking
    Issue 119

Creamy, hearty New England clam chowder is by far the most popular chowder style (compared to Manhattan or Rhode Island versions). Chowder made with milk or cream began appearing in the early 1800s, and New Englanders claimed it as their own in the 1900s. Many versions use a flour and butter roux to thicken the soup. The roux is necessary if you’re cooking with milk; otherwise, it curdles when boiled. This chowder gets its thick texture from a combination of heavy cream and puréed potatoes. You can crush some of the potatoes against the side of the pot (instead of puréeing the vegetables) for a thinner but equally delicious version.

  • 3 oz. thick-cut bacon (2 to 3 slices), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1-1/2 oz. unsalted butter (3 Tbs.)
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice (about 2 cups)
  • 4 tender inner celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 cup)
  • 4 cups diluted clam broth, plus the reserved clam meat (1-1/2 to 2 cups), finely chopped
  • 2 lb. large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 4-1/2 ­cups)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt

Cook the bacon in a wide heavy-duty 4- to 5-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to turn crisp and golden, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour off and discard the bacon fat, leaving the bacon in the pot. Add the butter and onion and cook over low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened but not colored, about 8 minutes. Add the celery and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add the clam broth, potatoes, bay leaves, thyme, and 1 tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.

Purée 1 ­cup of the soup solids with just enough liquid to cover in a food processor or blender, and add it back to the soup. Add the cream and bring to a boil.

Remove the soup from the heat, wait until it stops simmering (this may take a minute if you’re using a Dutch oven), and stir in the clams and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 370; Fat (g): 18; Fat Calories (kcal): 160; Saturated Fat (g): 10; Protein (g): 22; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 5; Carbohydrates (g): 28; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 1070; Cholesterol (mg): 105; Fiber (g): 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

We really enjoyed this - like the other review, we used half and half. It was creamy enough, to the point that I honestly think heavy cream might have been overdoing it. As we made it we liked it a lot. I was a little intimidated by cooking the clams and making the broth, but it turned out to be easy. A yummy recipe and a good experience!

This was very delicious, with a deep clam flavor, yet light tasting. We used half and half rather than full cream, and it was still delicious. Next time I might add a bit less of the clam stock so that the soup is a bit thicker. Be sure to buy extra clams in case some are dead or don't open. I bought 26 clams, which turned out to be around 7 lb, and scaled down the recipe a bit given the smaller weight of clams. I wish I had bought 30 clams to allow for some being smaller and/or dead. (I bought the clams from the largest seafood retailer in the southeast with a really fast turnover, so they should not have been old.)

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