In the past, chowders (from the Latin word “calderia” which originally meant a “pot for warming things”) were considered to be a poor man’s food. Fish stews were known throughout the world and were a forerunner of today’s clam chowders.
There are many recipes for New England clam chowder but variations between them are few. This recipe calls for canned clams which for most home cooks are easier to find than fresh. Serve with oyster crackers, saltines, or warm sourdough rolls. Makes four big mugs of chowder.
3 tbs. Butter
3 slices thick, good quality bacon such as an applewood-smoked variety, finely diced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 tsp. Liquid hot sauce
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tsp. Chopped parsley
3 tbs. Flour
1 pint half-and-half
3 cups chicken stock
2 medium red potatoes, scrubbed, skins on and cut into small “cubes”
2 small cans whole baby clams in juice
Optional: ¼ cup dry white wine
Optional: ¼ cup fresh corn kernels
Melt butter in soup pot. Add the bacon and cook for a few minutes. Add carrot, onion, and celery. Saute until the vegetables are soft. Sprinkle pepper over to taste and add the flour. Blend and cook for at least another minute. Add the half and half and chicken stock. Bring to a low boil and add the potatoes, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, hot sauce, and clams with juice. Bring back to a low boil and cook for about 15 minutes or until soup has thickened slightly and the potatoes are done. In the last ten minutes you can add ¼ of white wine and/or fresh corn kernels if you like. Serve in warmed soup mugs.