Today is National Clam Chowder Day! In honor of this peculiar holiday, here is a “blast from our past” recipe for New England Clam Chowder. We lived in New England twice in our marriage. Our oldest daughter was born in the Boston area. While living in Rhode Island, we would often go to Newport and have authentic clam chowder and a lobster roll. Wonder when national lobster roll day is? Surprisingly, clam chowder at the better restaurants in New England isn’t as thick as the canned or diner version commonly found.
This version has a light delicate consistency. The roux and the potatoes create a fabulous texture. If you like it a bit thicker, you can add more flour when the roux is made. Try adding another ½ tablespoon for equal parts fat and flour to make the roux. Usually, salt pork is used but we used bacon for this version. If you can find salt pork, chop it in your food processor so it will melt smoothly, otherwise, you’ll have to pick out the bits that won’t melt. Next time you cook bacon, save the melted fat in the refrigerator for this soup or any other dish that needs a little extra flavor. If you are cooking bacon just to make this soup, the left-over bacon bits can be used as garnish for salads or other dishes.
serves 4 generously
- 4 slices of bacon cooked to yield 3 Tbsp of fat or 2 oz of salt pork
- 2½ T flour
- 1 large onion fine dice
- 2 (6½oz) canned clams
- 2 (8oz) bottles of clam broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 large potato cut into bite-size cubes (about ½ in)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ tsp dried thyme leaves
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
In a pan, render the bacon fat or salt pork over low heat. Remove any pieces or meat that did not melt. When the fat is render, heat a sauce pot over medium heat. Add 3 Tbsp of the rendered fat and the onions. Sauté the onions until translucent. Add the flour. Stirring constantly, cook the compound roux over medium low heat until it has a nutty aroma. Remove the pot from the heat. While stirring, add a small amount of clam broth to the roux. When combined, add another small amount of clam broth, still stirring. After 4 or 5 additions the mixture should be free of lumps and thin enough to add the rest of the broth. Return the pot to the heat and stir constantly until it comes to a boil. Add the potatoes and return to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes. The potatoes should be soft. Add cream and thyme, bring back to temperature. Add the clams, bring back to temperature. Season with salt and ground pepper to taste.