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Clam Chowder: New England Style

I wouldn’t call myself a soup person.  I should be… I like warm food, I like comfort food, I like hearty food, and I like my Vitamix, the ultimate soup maker.  Those should all equal “you like soup”, no?  You’d never know it considering I’ve made four soups already this year (I’m trying really hard to want to want soup) but typically, it’s not my first choice.  There are a two situations when I opt for soup: when I’m sick and on Christmas Eve.  I’m guessing I don’t need to explain why I like soup when I’m sick so I’ll tell you why I like it so much on Christmas Eve.  The simple answer is tradition.  Every Christmas Eve, our family tradition has been to have my grandma’s New England style clam chowder.  It’s something our family (except my picky Uncle (sorry Uncle Mike..)) eats while reminiscing over passed Christmas’ to when I was a child or even to when my Mom, Aunt and Uncle were children.  This year, Christmas was unique for us; being in Los Angeles instead of Edmonton (which hasn’t deterred us from clam chowder in the past…when my grandma is also in LA) and combining three! families who have never had Christmas together.  Each family had their own sets of traditions to bring to the table and unfortunately some traditions, like this one, were delayed.

I was not opposed to this delay because it seems more fitting to have a hearty bowl of clam chowder in Vancouver while it’s freezing cold, pouring rain, and being aggressively windy with brief power outages than in it does to have it in 25 degree LA heat…

Clam Chowder: New England Style
Serves 8
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
6 hr
Total Time
6 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
6 hr
Total Time
6 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 15 oz can of Baby Clams (don't drain the juice)
  2. 5 small potatoes, peeled and diced
  3. 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  4. 4 slices bacon
  5. 1 leek, white part only sliced
  6. 2 cups milk, room temperature
  7. 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  8. 2 tablespoons butter
  9. 1-2 tablespoons flour (I use gluten-free, Bob's Red Mill)
  10. Touch of salt and pepper
  11. Chives or parsley, chopped for garnishing (optional)
Instructions
  1. Drain your baby clam juice into a pot with the diced potatoes. Cook the potatoes in the clam juice (keep the juice after the potatoes are done cooking). Once the potatoes are done, reserve the juice and place the potatoes in a bowl; set aside.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, fry the bacon until it is crispy. Remove the bacon and chop it into bite sized pieces, set it aside. Pour the bacon grease into a large pot.
  3. Add onions and garlic to the large pot containing bacon grease and saute over medium heat until onions are golden. Add butter into the pot and stir. Once the butter is melted, add in flour one tablespoon at a time to make a paste. The paste does not need to be insanely thick however, you want to make sure that you have changed the texture of the butter and that there is a little bit thickness to it. If it is still very thin, add the other tablespoon of flour (I typically end up using 1.5 tablespoons of flour). Once your paste is formed, add in leeks and stir for 1 minute.
  4. Pour the clam broth (from your potatoes) into the pot. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add milk and cream and stir. You don't need to hover over the pot and constantly stir (I do dishes and return to stir about every minute or two), however, if you don't keep a close eye on it and stir it relatively frequently the milk will burn. Add clams and bacon to the chowder. Stir over low heat; the longer the better, on Christmas Eve my grandma heats and stirs this pot for up to 6 hours! You don't need to do it for that long, it can be served once heated, but it won't be quite as flavorful! Once you are about 30 minutes out from serving your chowder, add in the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Garnish with chives or parsley and serve.
Samantha Potter http://samantha-potter.com/

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