RECIPE: Clam Chowder (three ways!)

Clam chowder has always seemed massively appealing and a little off-putting at the same time to me. That was until I got the chance to try it on a trip to Florida – or rather, a variation of it.

It turns out that the clam chowder recipe varies from region to region. Despite being in Florida the chowder I ate, as best I can tell, was New England clam chowder and it was delicious.

I recently went hunting for the recipe and that’s how I came across all the different regional variations – eight, in fact, and that’s only the ones listed on Wikipedia!

What is clam chowder?

In a nutshell it’s a broth-based soup containing clams, and a variety of other ingredients depending on your location (or preference!).

I wanted to give you the recipe for three of my favourites, starting with the New England version. I hope you try them and enjoy as much as I do.

New England Clam Chowder

To me this is the most ‘traditional’ clam chowder and it is almost certainly the one I had in Florida.

New England Clam Chowder

Image Credit: remcooks.com

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks trimmed, quartered  and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 2 (10-ounce) cans chopped clams in juice
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1lb of potatoes, cut into 1/2- inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a large pan on a medium-high heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion, celery and soften, stirring all the time.
  3. Stir in the flour, making sure it distributes evenly and there are no lumps.
  4. Add the vegetable stock, juice from the canned clams, cream, bay leaves and potatoes.
  5. Stir and bring to a simmer, stirring all the time until the sauce starts to thicken.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  7. When the potatoes have softened add the clams and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Cook for another two minutes or so, until the clams are just beginning to firm.
  9. Serve with croutons or oyster crackers (on the side) and a sprinkling of chopped flat leaf parsley.  

Minorcan Clam Chowder

I love this recipe because it’s so different with the addition of datil pepper, which adds a lot of heat to the dish. Use sparingly if you don’t want it too hot. Not sure why I didn’t get this in Florida – it comes from there, after all!

Minorcan Clam Chowder

Image Credit: saveur.com

Ingredients

  • 13ozs of minced clams
  • 4 strips of streaky bacon
  • 1 datil pepper, minced (use half a pepper if you’re heat shy), or datil hot sauce
  • 1 medium onion, diced in small pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced 
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 cup diced small red potatoes, peeled (2-3 total)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh garlic (1-2 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
  • 2 cups fish stock

Directions

  1. Cut bacon into 1cm x 1cm pieces and fry in a large soup pan until just crispy. Remove and drain excess fat on paper towel, leaving cooking fat in the pan.
  2. Cook the onion, green peppers and carrots in the bacon fat (top up with olive oil if needed) until onions are translucent (5-10 mins).
  3. Stir in the can of chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and all the herbs.
  4.  Add the minced datil pepper, clam juice and fish stock.
  5. Simmer on a low heat for an hour.
  6. Add the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes until tender.
  7. Add the minced clams and bacon and warm through – 5 minutes should do it.
  8. Taste and season accordingly.
  9. Serve with crusty bread or Saltine crackers.

Long Island Clam Chowder

This is a kid of mix of the above two recipes, given it has a creamy tomato base. If you like the sound of the Minorcan Clam Chowder but want a thicker consistency, this one is for you (and I suppose you could put the datil pepper in too!).

Long Island Clam Chowder

Image Credit: Cucina Magia

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 cup of chopped onions or sliced leeks
  • 1 cup of chopped carrots
  • 1 cup of chopped celery3 cups of potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of dried thyme
  • 10oz can chopped clams, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 lb flounder or halibut, cut in 2″ pieces
  • 2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 tsp of hot pepper sauce (optional)

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a large soup pan on a medium heat.
  2. Add onions, carrots and celery and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the potatoes, bay leaf and thyme.
  4. Add the juice form the tin of clams and a little water (enough to make up 3/4 of a cup total).
  5. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
  6. Purée half the chowder mix and return to the pan.
  7. Add the fish and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes.
  8. Stir in the milk and clams and heat through gently – 5 minutes or so, not letting it boil.
  9. Add the hot pepper sauce to taste.

There you have it…three ways to cook up your own delicious clam chowder. I prefer the New England version still, but the Minorcan one is good, I think, for the winter months thanks to the heat from the datil pepper.

Which one do you prefer? Let me know!