New England clam chowder #1

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I'm pretty sure I've never made New England clam chowder before, so I thought I'd give it a try. Probably the smarter thing to do is just make a tested recipe, but that's not what I did! This is just a small tester recipe, two servings of about 11.2 oz. each.

There is an updated recipe that uses canned clams at Clam Chowder #2. That's the recipe I use now.

8 small clams (I used littlenecks)
4 oz. white wine

1 tbsp. butter (or oil, or rendered bacon fat)
half a small onion, minced
half a stalk of celery, finely diced
1 slice of pre-cooked bacon, finely diced (like bacon bits)
1 tbsp. flour (probably should be 2 tbsp.)

16 oz. vegetable stock

1 small potato, diced into 3/8" to 1/2" pieces.

8 oz. heavy cream
salt
freshly ground white pepper
Tabasco sauce
Worcestershire sauce


Soak the clams for 15 minutes in cold water with some salt and ice. Some people swear by adding cornmeal, though I did not this time because I didn't want any stray cornmeal to end up in the reserved cooking liquid.

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Add the wine to a covered pan and bring to a boil. You can save washing a pan if you use the same pan you're going to make the soup in. Add the clams and cook until done, about 5 minutes. Discard any clams that did not open. I actually started with a dozen clams and lost 4, but there was still more than enough clam. You could probably go down to 3 clams per serving.

Save the wine and any liquid drained from the clams. If there's any grit, strain through a triple layer of cheesecloth. Pick the meat from the shells and dice the clam meat.

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Here are all of the ingredients, chopped:

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Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Melt the butter. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened, making sure they do not burn. Add the pre-cooked bacon.

You could also use raw bacon; in this case cook the bacon to render the fat, finely dice the cooked bacon, and cook the onions and celery in the rendered bacon fat.

The recipe in my CIA cookbook ("The Professional Chef") said to use salt pork, minced to a mash. This is probably a better idea, but for making this small of a batch, I didn't want to defrost a whole piece of salt pork.

Add the flour and cook another 6 to 8 minutes to make a blonde roux. I probably should have used 2 tbsp. of flour instead of one, because the soup could be a little thicker.

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In the soup pan, add 16 oz. of vegetable stock. I used More Than Gourmet vegetable stock concentrate (0.8 oz. concentrate to 16 oz. of water). You could also use packaged vegetable broth, homemade, or fish stock. The problem I ran into is that More Than Gourmet vegetable stock is very dark in color, so the resulting chowder is fairly dark as well. The flavor is good, it's just it seems a little too beige. Not sure how to solve that problem. Maybe I'll try the More Than Gourmet fish stock next time.

Add the reserved clam liquid and wine, celery and onions. Bring to a boil, the reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the potatoes, bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 more minutes or until the potatoes are done.

Add the cream and adjust the seasoning to taste.

I prepared it ahead - here is is packed in vacuum sealed bags for later.

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When I reheated it I added maybe 1/2 tsp. of cornstarch in a little water to thicken it up, since I didn't have enough flour in the roux and it was perfect. Served with a homemade whole wheat and oat dinner roll. Delicious, much better than canned soup!

I defrosted the vacuum sealed bag in a sink of cold water for an hour or so and reheated it on the stove. It reheated really well, so I'd say the soup can be frozen, too.

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