New England-Style Clam Chowder
Clams and clam broth
- 50 live middleneck clams
- 1 quart of water
- ½ lb salt pork, diced
- 2 medium onions, finely diced
- 4 stalks celery, finely diced
- ½ cup flour
- 2 cups water
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cans chopped clams, drained and rinsed
- 3 medium potatoes, cut into ¾ inch cubes and parboiled
- 3 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
- 2 pints heavy creme
Clam preparation — you'll need a large pot and a steamer basket that fits just inside it
- Soak the clams in cool water for at least 20 minutes (this should help to remove sand from inside the shells)
- Bring 1/3 of the quart of water to a boil in a large pot
- Scrub 1/3 of the clams, discarding any that are dead (shell won't close, etc.); place on the steamer basket
- Insert the steamer basket into the pot and put a lid on the pot
- Watch to ensure the pot does not boil over; remove clams as they open
- Remove clams from opened shells into a covered bowl; pour the liquid in the pot into a container (at least 1 quart in size; I use a lidded Bell jar)
- Repeat from step 2 for the remaining two batches of clams
Please note: I usually end up with about 36 clams to add to the soup. The temptation of freshly-steamed middlenecks is just too great for me. At this point the containers with the clams and clam juice can be sealed and refrigerated for up to 1 day. If shy of 1 quart, commercial clam juice can be used — I prefer brands that do not add preservatives.
- Place the salt pork in a stock pot over medium-low heat. Once the majority of the fat has rendered, remove the solids and allow them to cool.
- Add the onion and celery to the rendered fat and allow to soften, stirring occasionally.
- Add the flour and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occassionally, to create a roux.
- Raise to medium heat then add the clam juice and additional 2 cups of water. Stir well to dissolve the roux.
- Wrap the thyme and bay in cheese cloth and add to the broth. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the potatoes, hard-boiled egg, and heavy creme. Stir well and continue to simmer until service.
Since the whole clams were already steamed, cooking them in the soup will only toughen them. Instead, I like to serve the soup by placing a few whole clams in the bottom of the bowl and ladeling the soup over them. The hot soup will warm the cold whole clams without cooking them further.