New England Clam Chowder

Or shall I say, CHOWDA? Ugh…this is one of my favorite soups. Ever. I love the combination of seafood brine-y-ness with the cream and potatoes. It’s just…delightful.

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It also reminds me of the years I lived in California. Driving down the 1, there was a place that always sold clam chowder in a sourdough bowl. Yea, I know. This is pretty prevalent in northern California. I mean, you walk around Fisherman’s Wharf and there’s at least 15 places in sight where you can get a big bowl of soup served in a huge sourdough bread bowl. But back to that place on the 1. You drive down a scenic route alongside the huge cliffs of northern California, passing restaurants intermittently. If you’ve never driven down these cliffs, do it. The first time I ever went was when I was about 8. Ever since then, I still got the chills and blissful feeling driving down the same route year after year.

But this place was the one. I have no idea what the name of the place is. Never could remember it, even after all these years. All I know is that there was a landmark I always looked for to get to this place: smokestacks. Random, yes, but accurate? Oh yes.

The soup there was just perfect. Maybe it was nostalgia over the span of years I would visit there but god, I never felt happier visiting this place knowing I was about to consume a billion calories of soup-y goodness. The sourdough bread soaked in the goodness of the soup was my favorite part.

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This soup was pretty easy to make. I would say the only “difficult” ingredient is the clams. Luckily, I have my big ol’ seafood market here where I can get any type of seafood I need so I was able to get fresh clams. But I have read recipes where people just used canned clams so if that’s all you can get, go right ahead.

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Eat with some crackers or sourdough bread and enjoy it on a lazy, chilly Sunday!

Time: 1 hour
Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:

1/2 pound clams (I used clam strips)
1 bottle clam juice (found by the canned tuna & sardines)
1.5 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large potato, cubed (I always use red potatoes, they retain their shape perfectly)
1/2 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 bacon strips, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 bay leaves
black pepper

1. In a large pot, cook your bacon on medium high heat.
2. Once lightly cooked, add onions and celery. Cook until onions are translucent.
3. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
4. Add butter,flour, and potatoes and cook for 1 minute while stirring constantly.
5. Add clam juice and bring to a boil.
6. Add milk and cream. (You can adjust here how much milk you want. I prefer my soup to be not so thick)
7. Add bay leaves and tons of black pepper.
8. Add clams and bring to a boil.
9. Let the soup simmer on low heat for about 40 minutes, or until the soup has thickened and potatoes are cooked through.
10. Serve with ground pepper and crackers. Enjoy!

*If you prefer a thicker soup, I suggest adding double the amount of flour.

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