Thursday, November 5, 2009

Creating... Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder is one of my favourite soups.  The rains have begun in Vancouver. Damp, drizzly weather and chilling winds call for rich, creamy and warming soups.  Creating exactly the great, decadent, flavourful soup you crave is easy. 

This is a Jo creation so the amounts are approximate and you'll need to taste test as you go along. 

(for approximately 2 litres of soup/ 6 portions)

4- 6 slices good quality bacon, diced (I go to the Italian or East European deli for their smoked bacon)
2 cans clam nectar or 2 bottles of clam juice
500 ml cream
1 litre half and half
2 cans clams (can also replace one of these with a can of butter clams, minced in the food processor), rinse the clams if they are canned in brine.
2 red or yellow potatoes (I don't use baking potatoes because they will disintegrate in the soup), cut into medium dice
3 stalks celery, cut into medium dice
3 carrots, cut into medium dice
2 medium onions, cut into medium dice
approx. 2 tbsp flour mixed in 1/2 cup of cream
fresh minced parsley
salt and pepper
butter (optional)

In a heavy bottomed saucepot, fry the bacon until crisp.  Add the onions and cook until soft.  Add the potatoes and 250 ml of half and half.  Cook on medium heat approximately 10 minutes, then add the celery, the carrots and the clam nectar and simmer until the vegetables soften, approximately 20 minutes.  Add the thyme, one tsp at a time. In the meantime, make a slurry by mixing the flour and the cream and slowly adding it to the soup.  Add the clams, salt and pepper.  When the clams are heated through, taste for seasoning.  If the soup is not thick enough, add additional flour/cream mixture.  You can add the butter at this point to finish the soup, if you wish.  Add the parsley just before serving.  Serve immediately.

Make this soup your own by adding salmon (fresh or smoked), sole or other fish to make a fish chowder.  Shelled diced shrimp and/or diced (or halved) scallops can be added to make a seafood chowder. 
You can substitute milk for the cream to reduce calories. 

You can substitute salt pork for the bacon. 

The soup can be frozen in portions.