Clam Chowder

For a kid who doesn’t like most seafood, Lupe sure gulps down clam chowder, especially my mom’s clam chowder. I love that I can pick up the phone and say to my mom, “I’m thinking of cooking so-and-so this way. What would you do differently?” and she tells me, and we talk it back and forth, up and down, and inside-out until our recipes have meshed into something new. That’s what happened here.

You’ll need:

2 6.5-ounce cans of clams, 3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed, 1 onion, diced, 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely diced, 2 bay leaves, 3 stalks of celery, sliced, 4 slices of bacon, and fresh kernels off 1 cob of corn (optional). You’ll also need water, milk or heavy cream, and cornstarch.

Listen up, celery. If I don’t have time to sit down in my kitchen, then neither do you.

Fry the bacon in a stockpot, then cut into fine slices.

Saute the onion and celery in the bacon fat for about 5-7 minutes. I guarantee it’ll perk up your celery.

In the meantime, drain the clams and reserve the juice. If your clams aren’t already chopped, then do so.

Add the garlic to the sauteed onion and celery, and cook another 30 seconds or so.

Then, add the potatoes, bay leaves, corn (if using), and the reserved clam juice plus enough water to equal 4 cups of liquid. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Add the clams. Then, you have a few options. You can puree some of the potatoes with an immersion blender to thicken the soup–if going this route, maybe you want to puree the potatoes before you add the clams. Why? Well, let’s do the math:

Pureed clams=yucky.

That’s the finest math equation you’ll ever get out of this history major with a graduate degree in library sciences.

Or you can thicken the soup by adding heavy cream. I went with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed into 1 cup of 1% milk.

Stir, cook for several more minutes, then take the soup off the heat and remove the bay leaves.

Garnish with bacon. Parsley or chives would be pretty, too.

Serve with gluten-free buttermilk biscuits, an experience that will be launching a new portion of this blog that I’m calling Food Bloopers. More on that tomorrow.

Clam Chowder

serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 6.5-ounce cans clams, drained and juice reserved

3 medium-large potatoes (I like Yukon Gold), peeled and cubed

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

3 cups water

4 slices bacon

1 cup milk or heavy cream

1 tablespoon cornstarch

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (optional)

parsley for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. Cook bacon in stockpot. Dice.

2. Add onion and celery to stockpot with bacon fat. Cook 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.

3. Add reserved clam juice and 3 cups of water, potatoes, corn if using, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

4. Puree a small batch of potatoes with an immersion blender to thicken the soup. Or add 1 cup milk or heavy cream with 1 tablespoon cornstarch stirred into it.

5. Heat for several more minutes. Remove bay leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with bacon and parsley, if desired.

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