Being a proper New Englander (by residence, not by birth), I’m not really a fan of Manhattan clam chowder… I guess in part because the only good tomato-based soup (to my taste buds) is a good chunky chilled gazpacho.
I’ll do the New England cream-based clam chowder instead, but I find it a bit heavy (yeah, that Alfredo sauce a couple posts back was good… but heavy for just having a soup on a hot summer’s evening, looking out over an ocean – not that I’m near an ocean, but when I am…), so give me that ole time Rhode Island clam chowder! Done right, it hits the spot.
Done wrong, the base broth tastes like tepid bath water with a bit too much salt added.
Quahog clams are traditional, but I used the leftover clams from the Zoodle Seafood Alfredo recipe, plus some chopped quahog clams I picked up back on a trip to Rhode Island, and had frozen. But actually, quahogs are just big cherrystones… so just keep it in the family!!
Salt pork is traditional, but I only had bacon – granted, it’s local pastured bacon, so I hope that counts…. but if you can, find some salt pork!
Prep Time: 15 minutes, make bacon while prepping the rest.
Cook Time: Soup cooks for 20 min.
Rest: Not necessary but will boost flavor melding.
Clear Rhode Island Clam Chowder
- 175 grams / 6 ounces raw quahog (or cherrystone) clams, minced – this is how I bought them, you can cook the clams up yourself from within the shell… add more time…
- 3 – 4 slices bacon, fried crispy, or 1/4 pound salt pork, diced.
- 1/4 onion, diced
- 2 skinny celery stalks, diced
- 1/2 – 1 large Yukon potato, diced about 1/4 inch segments. (You can use other potatoes, peeled or not as you see fit, although I suspect Russets would be best peeled.)
- 16 ounces clam juice plus 1/4 cup water
- ½ cup dry white wine (no alcohol? Add that amount of water with a splash of white or cider vinegar)
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- Optional pinch to 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or serve a hot sauce on the side when presenting the soup)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Optional scattering of fresh chopped parsley (I didn’t have, so I used chopped scallion greens).
- DO NOT ADD EXTRA SALT!
- Optional oyster crackers, served on the side.
I am going to assume you’ve already prepped your clams, or bought them diced and raw.
Separate them from the broth, you can buy bottled or jarred clam broth. If it’s concentrated, you’ll need to dilute a little with water due to the salt being concentrated as well. (I have also made my own shellfish broth using shrimp, lobster, and various bivalve shells, but you don’t need to do this; that will be a future recipe when I can get a hold of the desired ingredients again.)
Fry up 3-4 slices of bacon as per usual methods, you can let them get as crispy (not burnt) as you want. Or, pan fry the salt pork, until corners just get a bit brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet, and pan fry the onion, stirring occasionally to get up any bacon/pork fond.
Put all the liquids (juice, water, wine) into a sauce pan. Add the potato and onion. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Add the celery and bacon/salt pork, and all the seasonings except the parsley or scallion
Simmer 15 minutes.
Add the clams if raw. Let return to a boil and simmer another five minutes.
If already cooked, let return to a boil and simmer no more than 2 minutes.
Remove from heat. Adjust seasonings by taste.
Add the parsley or green onion just prior to serving — you may want to let the soup rest a bit so the flavors can meld further. Nothing wrong with re-heating if necessary.
AND drop on in at What’s for Dinner? – another great link party where you can hook all sorts of foods and recipes.