Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Perfect Summer Soup

New England Clam Chowder
Yield: 2 quarts, 4-6 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

      There is no more iconic soup enjoyed during the summer than New England Clam Chowder. Entertain a party, go to the beach, or enjoy a warm bowl on a cool summer night. As chefs and long time New Englanders RMR loves finding clam shacks along small coastal roads, and at every one we have to try the chowder. Chowder should be full of rich clam flavor, thick without being paste, and overflowing with clams. Our version fulfills all these criteria and will please even the harshest chowder critic, give it a try and let us know what you think.

4 strips bacon, diced
1 medium onion, 1 cup diced
2 stalks celery, 1/2 cup diced
3 garic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp AP flour
2 cups heavy cream
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, large diced
2 bay leaves
4 cups clam juice
1/2 cup white wine
1 dozen little neck clams, rinsed
1 10 oz can chopped clams
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp pepper

1. Add the cut bacon to a soup pot and cook slowly over medium heat until it becomes crisp.(By starting the bacon in a cold pot and cooking it slowly it will render out more fat)
2. Once the bacon is crisp remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon. Then add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
3. Whisk in the flour until combined with the fat and vegetables, then gradually add the cream and whisk until the flour has fully dissolved and there are no clumps. Add the potatoes, bay leaves, and 3 cups of clam juice to the pot and cook over medium heat until the potatoes become tender, about 15 minutes.
4. While the potatoes are cooking in a small sauce pan add 1 cup of the clam juice and the white wine. Bring this mixture to a boil over high heat and then add the little neck clams. Cover and steam the clams until they open, about 5-7 minutes.
5. When the clams have opened add them to the pot, then strain the cooking liquid through a coffee filter to remove the sand and add to the soup pot. Toss in the entire can of chopped clams including the liquid,the parsley,thyme, cooked bacon,and seasoning. Simmer the soup over medium low heat for another 5-10 minutes, then taste for seasoning and enjoy.
Serve your chowder with a choice of oyster crackers, lemon wedges, and hot sauce.

Chef's Note
      Depending on where you live in the country different types of clams may be available to you. On the east coast we have the Littleneck and Cherrystone varieties, on the west coast there are Rock clams, Pismo clams, and Butter clams. All of these are perfect for chowder so feel free to use whatever is locally available and fresh.
      The important thing to remember when dealing with fresh clams is to scrub them under cold water before cooking to try and remove as much sand and grit as possible. The other key to cooking clams is to know when they are cooked. When steaming a clam the shell will open up in about five minutes which lets you know the clam is fully cooked, some clams take longer than others so remove the cooked ones and continue steaming. If clams have not opened after ten minutes it means they were probably dead and you should discard them.

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