This time of the year, sitting down to a hot bowl of soup, stew or chowder warms your bones and somehow makes everything feel right with the world.
New England-style Clam Chowder, or "Chow-da" as those in Boston refer to it, is one of my favorite ways to warm up and indulge. Now don't get me wrong, I appreciate and enjoy Manhattan-style chowder as well, but given the choice I will always choose New England. Don't judge - I adore cream! And this is not the time of year to worry about calories!
Though I do believe steaming and shucking your own clams is the preferred way to go, the following recipe is a damn good stand-in for those of us who do not reside on the east coast; and I am betting you will not be disappointed.
Serve this chowder alongside some warm, crusty bread, a light salad, and a crisp and refreshing white wine; and you are very close to heaven my friend... Now go! Go and make a big, steaming pot of this chowder and watch the snow fall.
Clam Chowder (New England Style)
2 tablespoons butter
cooked bacon (an amount to your liking)
1 medium onion diced
1 carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, quartered and sliced into ¼ inch pieces
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups of chicken stock
4 (10 oz.) cans of clams with their juice
2 cups of heavy cream
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of thyme
Pinch of cayenne
2 pounds of potatoes, diced
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and sauté until softened. Stir in the flour to distribute evenly. Add the chicken stock and juice from the chopped clams (reserve the clams).
Add the cream, bay leaves, cayenne, thyme and potatoes. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and thicken slightly. Reduce heat to low and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring often, until potatoes are tender.
Add clams and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer a few more minutes to heat clams through. Serve chowder with bacon crumbled on top.