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Rhode Island Clam Chowder

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Serves 8 to 10

Yields about 10 cups

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

This thin, clear-broth chowder is the least common style; even in Rhode Island, it’s often served alongside the more familiar New England and sometimes Manhattan chowders. It's the true seafood-lover's clam chowder, containing neither dairy nor tomatoes to mask the fresh sea flavors.

  • 2 oz. thin-sliced 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, sliced crosswise 1/8 inch thick (about 1 cup)
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic (2 large cloves)
  • 6 cups diluted clam broth, plus the reserved clam meat (1-1/2 to 2 cups), finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 lb. large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch dice (about 3-1/2 cups)
  • 2-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Put the bacon in a wide heavy-duty 4- to 5-quart pot or Dutch oven and cook 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 sweet and tender, about 10 minutes. The onion shouldn’t color. Add the celery and garlic and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes more. Add the clam broth, potatoes, thyme, bay leaves, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

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 chopped parsley. Season to taste with black pepper, if desired.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 240; Fat (g): fat g 7; Fat Calories (kcal): 60; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 3; Protein (g): protein g 21; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 23; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 890; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 65; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Delicious! I just made it and it's incredible even before all the flavors have come together. The only thing I did differently was I did NOT toss the bacon fat - why waste good bacon fat?! It was only about a tablespoon or so and just added more flavor. This is definitely a keeper - and I'm a Rhode Islander!

We had a chowder cook-off with all 3 chowders. This one won hands down.

I added a couple of bay leaves, a little old bay with a few multi colored peppercorns to the steam pot that I made the clam broth in.. Other than that this recipe is perfect and delicious.

I made this recipe last week, and froze it, to take to a friend's house for a ski weekend. Thawed fine, and, for a bunch of hungry skiers who are used to New England cream style chowder, they couldn't get enough of it. The only change I made was that I precooked the fresh chopped clams for 7-8 minutes, and added some clam juice,(6, 8oz. bottles) because there was not enough liquid. (I didn't have time to steam and chop raw clams.) This was terrific and definitely recommend it. Thanks.

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