Thursday, June 10, 2010

When the weather won't mind, make chowder.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of having three to four seasons packed into one day.  If I put on a sweater and jeans in the morning, I really don't want to have to change to a tank top and shorts in five hours.  (I'd rather just be in the shorts from the get go!)  We're already above twice the normal rainfall with new records set in the first week of the month alone.  And it's June for Pete's sake, we should be beyond 25º variances in temperature!  This is cold and wet even for Seattle.  The one comfort I have in this weather is that it is great for chowder.  Of course here around Puget Sound, you don't really need an excuse for chowder.  I've had it about six times in the past week alone.  Tells you how good the weather has been.

This is one soup that my eldest will just dig into without picking apart the ingredients, which is saying a lot.  Even with homemade chicken noodle soup, which she loves, she will eat it one ingredient at a time.  She's a food purist or something.  (I think she gets it from Grandma, shhhhhhhh.)  We're working slowly on getting her to accept hodgepodge foods like casserole or things that have sauces all over them.  This is really good with fresh sourdough or french bread.  And my daughter can eat a whole loaf of sourdough by herself.  So this has been a favorite meal of late.

Oregon Coast Clam Chowder
Serves 4-6

½ pound lean bacon, drippings reserved
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 large ribs celery, chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can sliced stewed or diced tomatoes
3 potatoes, cubed  (1 large russet and 2 large reds is what I use - smaller dice will cook faster)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce (I like the basil, garlic, oregano but plain is fine too)
7 splashes tabasco (maybe ½ - ¾ tsp or to taste)
8 oz bottle clam juice
½ tsp sea salt
2 cans (6.5 oz each) chopped clams, undrained  (or about 7 fresh or frozen chopped razor clams, if you've been out digging)
½ - 1 cup heavy cream
lemon pepper to taste

Chop the bacon and saute in a dutch oven/soup pot until crisp.  Drain and set aside, reserving 1 tbsp of the drippings.  (I admit that I tend to use a bit more than just the 1 tbsp.)  Add the olive oil and the reserved drippings back to the pot and saute the chopped onion and celery until crisp tender.

Add water just to cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tabasco and simmer while dicing and adding the potatoes.  Add the clam juice and simmer until potatoes are tender, adding water if necessary.  (The spuds will cook faster with more water.)

Next add the clams with their juice and the bacon.  Cook on medium low for 10 minutes.  Last add the heavy cream.  Depending on how much water you add, you may wish to use more or less.  You are welcome to use part milk and some instant potato flakes or starch for added thickening if you choose.  My mom always used potato buds to thicken the chowder when I was growing up.  Season to taste with pepper or lemon pepper.  (Don't let it boil after you add the cream, or it may assume a curdled appearance.)  As with many soups, this is even better on the second day.  It never lasts longer than that here but mom says it freezes for a while as well.

Enjoy it with a nice fresh loaf of bread, good for soup sopping.  I love to make a "french sourdough".  I can use unfed starter and still end up with a beautiful, slightly tangy loaf with a nice chewy texture and crispy crust.  Hmm, maybe I'll post that one next...


  1. This looks soooo good! I'll have to print this one out and make a pot for us!

  2. I love chowder anytime, anyplace. Yours looks wonderful. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

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  4. To which link are you referring Alex? I'll try to fix anything broken if I can. :)

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