New England Clam Chowder
Manhattan clam chowder has nothing on New England clam “chowda.” My true appreciation for New England clam chowder came from going to Martha’s Vineyard during the summer when I was younger. My brother and I would take our kayaks out in the water with our Dad and our family friend, Sam, to go clamming using a large rake to find the clams under the sand. When we got back to the house Sam would make us clam chowder with the clams that we brought in. If using fresh clams, discard any clams that are already partly opened before steaming or ones that do not open after steaming as they are already dead and likely have gone bad.
3 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 ounces bacon, sliced into strips
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
½ cup finely diced celery
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups heavy cream
2 bay leaves
1 pound Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
1 sprig of fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Bring 3 cups of water to the boil, add the clams and cover the pot. Cook until the clams have all opened, about 8 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and set a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Pour the clams through the strainer and reserve the cooking liquid. Once the clams have cooled, remove the meat from the shells, and discard the shells. Chop the clams and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook the bacon strips until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, onion and celery, then sauté until the onion is translucent, stirring often. Whisk in the flour to distribute evenly, creating a roux.
Add the chicken stock, 2 cups of the reserved cooking liquid, cream, bay leaves, potatoes, and thyme. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer for about 30 minutes, continuing to stir osccasionally, until the potatoes are tender.
Discard the bay leaves and sprig of thyme. Add the clams to the broth, then stir in the Worcestershire. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve: Ladle soup into bowls, top with chives, and serve piping hot with oyster crackers.
Note: If fresh clams are unavailable or if you are in a rush, substitute 2 (5-ounce) cans of chopped clams. Drain the canned clams and reserve the juice to use in the broth for the soup.