New England Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

During a recent catering we did, I was asked for “a good Clam chowder recipe”.

So here is one better – a fabulous, yummy, GREAT clam chowder recipe, Boston style. This is a classic comfort soup that most everyone loves. Creamy, velvety goodness together with fresh clams and bacon – what is not to love?

This is not difficult to prepare either and if you want to make it even easier, you can substitute a can of good quality chopped clams for the fresh ones in the shell. It will be just fine. I would pair this delectable goodness with a lovely chardonnay, such as La Crema (even if you are not a hug Chard fan, trust me, it will be perfect!)

Bon Appétit! Chef Bettina

New England Clam Chowder

3 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed (or 2 6.5oz cans chopped clams)
6 slices thick-cut bacon, diced into lardons
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 stalks celery, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Rinse the clams several times under cold running water and place in a large pot and add 3 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cover and cook until the clams open, about 6 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; reserve the broth. Transfer the clams to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, this will prevent them drying out.

Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Melt the butter in the same pot over medium heat. Add the celery, onion and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in the reserved clam broth, 1 1/2 cups water and the potato. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potato is tender and the soup thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the clams from their shells and roughly chop.

Reduce the heat to medium low. Whisk in the half-and-half and cream and heat through, without boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped clams; season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the reserved bacon.

*Bettina Tolin is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin. She has cooked in the kitchens of the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, Florida. She is currently the Executive Chef and owner of Marcello’s overlooking the historic lighthouse in Port Isabel. Marcello’s Ocean Grille & Spirits was recently written up in Texas Monthly magazine as the new trending restaurant for dinner and brunch in the South Padre Island area.