Clam Chowders of various types have been a long term favourite of mine and it has been in our family for many generations. But when and where they were first made no-one will ever know.
But the real secret of a tasty chowder is fresh products like fresh seafood, fresh vegetables and fresh ingredients that provide a variety of textures.
Chowder are traditionally a rich, creamy type of soup that resemble a stew. The main ingredients then, are the creamy base, vegetable, seafood and cream.
Traditionally the chowder base is made from a bacon stock and thickened with the flour from crushed crackers.
To the soup base are added all types variations from poultry to seafood, even beef, and there are many vegetarian varieties using only the vegetables - for corn chowder.
The diced seafood is added and gently simmered until it is cooked thoroughly.
Then the entire mixture is there pureed, or put through a blender. Cream is added to the soup, which is cooked further and allowed to thicken.
Chowders retain the thick chunks of vegetables and seafood which are not pureed.
Some cooks at this time also add cream and flour to the dish to thicken it.
The most famous variety of all chowders is the Clam Chowder, which has at least two styles:
The New England style which is made from a cream base and the Manhattan style clam chowder which is made from a base of pureed tomatoes.
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 large brown onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups freshly steamed clams, or canned - drained, juice reserved
2 cups light thickened cream or half cream/ half Milk
2 cups water
2 slices bacon, sliced into 1/4-inch square pieces
2 tablespoons butter
4 medium russet (or similar varieties of potatoes, peeled (or leave the skins on if thoroughly washed) and cut into 1/2-inch (1cm) cubes ground black pepper, herbs to taste.
In a frying pan or a wok, cook the bacon until it is crisp and flavoursome over medium to high heat.
Lower the heat to low, then add 1 tablespoon of the butter, add the onions, and sauté until it is transparent and soft, but do not allow the onions to become brown.
Add the flour to the pan and cook further for about 2 more minutes.
To a pot, saucepan crock pot or slow cooker, add the water and transfer the contents of the frying pan to the pot. Add the diced potatoes.
Season it with salt and pepper to your own taste and slowly bring the soup to a simmer, and cook until potatoes are firm but just cooked.
Reduce the heat to low, add the clams while spooning it into the cooker, slowly pour in the cream while still spooning, add the reminder of the butter and cook until heated through but do not boil!
Turn off heat, adjust seasoning, and serve it hot as a soup with garlic bread or buns.
This is one of the very few seafood dishes that does not go well with wine - the milk or creaminess of the chowder just won't let you enjoy wine with it.
But if you want to cook up a Clam Chowder without a milk or cream base - well - then the bar is open...
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