There’s nothing nicer than a steaming bowl of clam chowder on a chilly Autumn evening.
This easy recipe doesn’t involve shucking fresh clams and is quite wonderful, despite being made with canned baby clams. It has a little kick, too – you can omit the chili if you prefer but it wouldn’t taste quite as lively.
Chock full of good stuff, this is a hearty a meal in itself; just serve it with some hot crusty bread on the side.
(Serves 4 as a main course)
3 x 8 oz (237ml) bottles of clam juice
1 lb (454g) of red skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into half inch (approx 1cm) cubes
2 oz (57g) of butter
3 slices of smoked bacon, diced small
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 large celery stalks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) of all-purpose/plain flour
40oz (1.134g) of canned whole baby clams – drained, juices reserved
1 ¼ (300ml) cups of half and half or thin cream
1/2 – 1 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
Bring the bottled clam juice and diced potatoes to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10-12 minutes.
Melt the butter in a heavy pan over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook until just starting to brown; add the chopped onion, celery, garlic, chili flakes and bay leaf; sauté gently until the onion is tender.
Stir in the flour and mix really well – cook for 2 minutes; don’t allow the flour to brown.
Slowly whisk in the reserved juice from the canned clams.
Once it’s well blended, add the potato-clam juice mix, half and half and clams, then simmer for at least 5 minutes and adjust the seasoning…add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
You can make it up to 24 hours ahead – refrigerate and slowly bring to a simmer to serve.