Most people probably think of soups, stews, and chowders during the fall and winter months. For the most part, I do as well, but when spring and summer come (and it IS coming!), the one soup that I do tend to favor is New England Clam Chowder. More than likely I associate it with these months because this is when we head East to visit friends and family, exploring New England at a leisurely pace, and stuffing ourselves with as much fresh seafood in all possible forms along the way. I've yet to master the lobster roll or lobster pot pie, but I have mastered New England Clam Chowder, thanks to some help from a recipe that I found on epicurious.com. I've altered it to suit my tastes, and think it exceeds their version in both taste and texture. If you love Clam Chowder the way that I do, I encourage you to give this recipe a try. Delicious!
New England Clam Chowder
2 10-oz cans minced clams, juices reserved
2 cups bottled clam juice
4 bacon slices, minced
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons dry sherry
Freshly ground black pepper
4 drops tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Drain the clam juice from the minced clams and combine with enough bottled juice to equal 3 cups of liquid. Cook the bacon slowly in a soup pot over medium heat until lightly crispy, about 8 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the clam juice, bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The liquid should be the consistency of heavy cream. If it is too thick, add more clam juice to adjust the consistency. Add the bay leaf and fresh thyme. Add the potatoes and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the clams and cream in saucepan and simmer together until the clams are warmed through. When the potatoes are tender, add the clams and cream to the soup base. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the sherry. Season to taste with salt, pepper, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce. Serve in bowls with the crackers on the side.