Very Clammy New England Clam Chowder

“Clam chowder is one of those subjects, like politics or religion, that can
never be discussed lightly.  Bring it up even incidentally, and all the
innumerable factions of the clam bake regions raise their heads and begin to
Louis P. De Gouy, The Soup Cookbook (1949)

A quick pot of chowder filled with fresh little neck clams and chopped chowder clams comforting on a rainy evening.  While it is still hot and humid outside I’ve pretty much succumbed to soup nights any time of year now, after all we do have air conditioning and if I haven’t spent the day outdoors sweating, soup is so easy on  a busy or a tiring day.

Normally I’ll go to all the work and trouble to make Jasper White’s chowder or one of the other recipes that I have, but quick and easy was the game plan.  I missed the addition of garlic and leeks that I normally add to chowder, but all in all the recipe in Fine Cooking was pretty satisfying and the boost was primarily because I added about 3 dozen little necks to the recipe.

NE Clam Chowder~adapted from Fine Cooking #119

3 oz. thick-cut bacon (2 to 3 slices), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1-1/2 oz. unsalted butter (3 Tbs.)
1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice (about 2 ­cups)
4 tender inner celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1­cup)
4 cups clam broth, ( I didn’t have enough broth from the small clams so I added  2 bottles of clam broth to what I had) plus the reserved clam meat, finely chopped
2 lb. large Yukon Gold potatoes or russetts, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 4-1/2 ­cups)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley Kosher salt

Cook the bacon in a wide heavy-duty 4- to 5-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to turn crisp and golden, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour off and discard the bacon fat, leaving the bacon in the pot. Add the butter and onion and cook over low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened but not colored, about 8 minutes. Add the celery and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add the clam broth, potatoes, bay leaves, thyme, and 1 tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.

Purée 1 ­cup of the soup solids with just enough liquid to cover in a food processor or blender, and add it back to the soup. Add the cream and bring to a boil.

Remove the soup from the heat, wait until it stops simmering (this may take a minute if you’re using a Dutch oven), and stir in the clams and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.