When most think of New England, historical thoughts of long established fishing villages, lighthouses and early beginnings such as Plymouth Rock come to mind. When I think of New England, I immediately think of the foods and flavors found on that range including amazing seafood like lobster, crab, and incredible fish filling the various waterways famous in the region. And of course, the hearty soups and stews that are often enjoyed as part of the cuisine that make the place a regional culinary hotspot.
In this part of the country especially, recipes and dishes rich in flavor, nutrition and sustenance are appreciated especially in the cold, damp climate the area is known for, notably into the winter months. Soups and stews built off the readily available, local and indigenous ingredients are such popular fare and one of the most iconic recipes of all, a good old fashioned creamy New England Clam Chowder.
Now different from a soup or stew, technically what makes a chowder a "chowder" to begin with is the addition of potato to the recipe. This particular recipe I'm sharing below calls for red potatoes but feel free to use whatever you have on hand! They all work beautifully. If you choose to go with a russet-style potato, I would peel them in that case. Those skins tend to be a little tougher. But for the waxy-style potatoes such as red skin, white creamer or Yukon gold, leaving the skin on just gives such beautiful dimension to the finished recipe. So chef's choice on that approach! It's going to be awesome no matter which you choose!
This little recipe makes a nice size batch. Like any soup or stew, it's even better the next day. If you do go to reheat it, do so in a heavy-bottomed pot and over very low heat, stirring constantly. The chowder is on the thicker side and because of the dairy within the recipe, it will scorch quickly if you don't keep it moving while heating! So onto the recipe, it's delicious! Let's go!
½ pound bacon, best quality, chopped fine
6 oz butter, unsalted
2 each large yellow onion, small dice
8 oz celery, small dice
10 oz all-purpose flour
2 qt water
12 oz clam juice
2 pounds red potatoes, skin on, medium dice
1 t. black pepper, ground
12 oz whole milk
2 c. heavy cream
12 oz clams, chopped, canned
Salt to taste (if needed)
In a heavy bottom soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, render (lightly brown) the bacon until crispy. Add butter to the pot and melt gently. Add the onion and celery and cook the vegetables until translucent but not brown. Onions should be clear and fully cooked. To this, whisk in the flour to prepare a roux.
Over medium heat, whisk in the water and clam juice in three stages. Bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Add potatoes and cook gently until tender. Add black pepper, milk, cream, and clams. Season with salt and additional black pepper as needed. Garnish with extra crispy bacon, fresh chives or scallions. Serve with buttered rolls or a crusty loaf of sourdough bread! Enjoy! Serves 8