Souper Week 2012: New England Clam Chowder

It’s Hump Day! Welcome back to Souper Week! All this week Kevin and I are sharing delicious fall soup recipes that we created right here in our own kitchen. Check out Monday’s French Onion Soup recipe and be sure to comment on yesterday’s beer cheese soup post – it will enter you into our giveaway for four french onion soup bowls!

We’re traveling east from Wisconsin’s Beer Cheese soup half way across the country to New England for a bowl of classic clam chowder, Texas style.

What makes it Texas style? We made it here in the Lone Star State. And like most things I make, if it tastes a little different than the original, I just blame it on Texas. Margherita pizza, Texas Style. Butternut squash risotto, Texas style. New England clam chowder, Texas style. It makes it sound special.
EDIT: They didn’t eat the SD card! I found it in the strangest of places… in the camera.

New England Clam Chowder

prep: 20 mins
cook: 1 hr

Ingredients:

2.5 lbs Littleneck clams (or 1-2 cans of clams… but go with the live ones! you won’t regret it)

4 c. fish stock (you can use veggie stock in a pinch, but really, make your own fish stock… we did!)
2 sprigs thyme
2 cloves garlic, smashed
6 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 c. flour
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1 large onion, copped
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 clove garlic, finely minced
6 c. 2% milk
2 c. heavy cream
2 bay leaves
2 tsp time, chopped
salt & pepper

Prep:

1. Buy your clams the night before. You’ll need to de-grit them. There’s several schools of thought on how to do this. One is to soak them in salt water, sometimes with cornmeal sprinkled on top. Another involves quick soaks in clean water until there’s no more grit. There’s even one that involves water running over a stainless steel spoon which induces and electrical charge and forces the clams to open up and spit out their sand. I’m a little dubious on that tone. At any rate, they need to be de-gritted and their shells need to be scrubbed clean. Aren’t they gorgeous?

2. In a large stockpot, combine the fish stock, thyme sprigs, and smashed garlic. Bring this to a boil and add in the clams, stirring them occasionally. When the clams open wide (on their own), they’re finished. It should take about ten minutes for all the clams to open. Throw away any clams that do not open. They were dead before this whole thing started. Not good.

3. When the clams have cooled slightly, use a fork (or your fingers) to remove the meat. Chop it roughly with a knife and set aside.

4. Remove the last of the clams from the hot tub stock pot, then strain the remaining liquid through a sieve and cheese cloth (if you don’t have cheesecloth, a few layers of folded up paper towel will do). Be sure to keep this broth! You need it’s clammy goodness in the soup.

5. In the (now empty) stockpot, combine the butter and olive oil. Once melted, add the celery, carrot, and onion. For those in the know, this is called a mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwah). It’s the flavor foundation that a large majority of French cooking is based on. Saute the veggies until they begin to soften.

6. Once the veggies begin to soften, add the flour. Whisk in to make a roux. Allow this to cook for several minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. It’ll look like a sticky, gummy mess. That’s good. If it’s not a sticky, gummy mess and is more a juicy mess, add flour. If it’s more of a floury mess, add butter/olive oil.

7. Add in the milk, cream, and fish stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in the potatoes and clams. Cook until the potatoes are soft.

8. Between the roux and the starch the potaotes give off you should have a very thick soup (be careful, thick soups burn faster!). If, however, after all that you still have a not-so-chowdery-chowder, there is a trick to thicken it up a bit. In a small bowl, mix one tablespoon of cornstarch with just enough water to make a juicy paste. Add this in small amounts to the soup, waiting about five minutes between each addition. When the soup is thick enough for your liking, serve hot with a crusty, toasted baguette for dipping.

Be sure to enter our giveaway!

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