Saturday, October 23, 2010

New England Clam Chowder

I bought too much milk, and have some celery that is going to go bad if I don't use it soon. By my logic, that equals clam chowder.

I almost never buy soups anymore because they have way too much salt in them. (see notes on preserving food in Things That Don't Expire.) The average can of clam chowder, usually two servings, contains almost a full day's allowance of salt. Canned soups are usually also higher in fat than what you make at home, because fat is a source of flavor. Plus, I like to leave the skin on my potatoes, and I don't overcook the celery so it stays a little crisp.

To me, there is only one kind of clam chowder. When you drown the clams in tomato Manhattan sauce, it's hard to taste them. The cream enhances the flavor. This soup is also one of the few reasons I would pick up a loaf of sourdough bread. They sell small ones at the market that you can hollow out into bread bowls.

This recipe was developed by messing with the Bible's, which relies too much on seasonings and is too pasty for me. I cook the potatoes separately. It conserves time and boils out some of the potato starch so the soup doesn't get too thick. When adding the salt, start off conservatively, since butter/margarine, the clams, and celery are all good sources of it. I ended up adding less than half a teaspoon for four large servings.

1-1/2 lb Russet potatoes (2 medium)
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 C)
1/2 C diced celery (about 2 ribs)
2 Tb butter
1/4 C flour
3 C milk
5 oz canned clams (whole or chopped), liquid reserved
salt and pepper to taste

1. Dice the potatoes into 1/2" cubes. Place in saucepan with lightly salted water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are cooked, about 10 min.

2. While potatoes are simmering, melt butter in soup pot. Add diced onion and celery and sauté until the onions are tender. Add flour and cook until it forms a paste. Slowly add milk, letting soup thicken before each 1 C addition.

3. Drain potatoes and add to soup pot. Stir in clams and juice. Add salt and pepper as needed. Cook until heated through and thickened to desired consistency.

Difficulty rating  π

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