03 December 2008

New England Clam Chowder

I'm neither from New England nor particularly fond of clams, but I made this soup strictly in the interests of "research," and was very impressed. It's quite simply delicious. So here's a little sneak peak of the many American recipes to come!
New England Clam Chowder:
Serves 4
2 kg medium clams (5-7 lbs, the more the merrier)
100 g (3 oz/ 4 slices) bacon, cut into chunks*
30 g (1/4 c) flour
3 medium red-skinned potatoes (about 650 g), rinced and diced medium
1 large yellow onion, small dice, peel and scraps reserved
1 medium celery stalk, small dice, peel and scraps reserved
1 medium carrot, small dice, peel and scraps reserved
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 cups water
1 large bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme1/2 c cup heavy cream or half and half
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Table salt and ground black pepper

Rinse the clams and place in a large soup pot over high heat with 3 cups water and the vegetable scraps. Cook, covered, until clams open, about 5 minutes. Discard any clams that remain closed.
Remove clams from shells and finely dice, discarding the shells and vegetable scraps. Strain broth to remove any sediment and set aside.
Rinse out soup pot and return to medium heat; cook the bacon until lightly crisp, about 8 minutes.

Add the bay leaf, onion, celery and carrot, and cook, stirring occasionally for about 7-10 minutes. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the reserved broth, whisking constantly. 
Add potatoes and thyme; simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add clams, cream, parsley, and salt (if necessary) and ground pepper to taste; bring to simmer. If soup is too thick, slowly whisk in some boiling water until reaching desired consistency.

* If you have non-bacon-eaters in the crowd, cook bacon separately and serve at the end only to who desires the extra flavor.

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