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Author Notes: Creamy, proper, clam chowder does not come out of a can. It’s a myth. And, making creamy clam chowder is not hard. That’s also a myth. Most likely propagated by the folks who sell clam chowder in cans. Traditionally, a true chowder must be thickened with potato, not flour. All manner of potato things work, from left over mashers, to instant potato flakes, to diced and simmered spuds. Feel free to use canned clams and their juice, but with a few fresh beauties tossed in to garnish if you wish. —signe langford
Serves 6 - 8
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 ounces pancetta or bacon, cubed or chopped
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 2 large Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed, diced
- 1 cup 18% or table cream
- 2 cans of clams and the juice
- 2 cups clam, fish, chicken or veg stock
- 1 whole smoked fish such as mackerel or herring or about 6 oz of smoked cod or haddock
- enough left over mashed potatoes or instant potato flakes, enough to thicken the soup
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
- 1/2 cup medium dry sherry
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- tiny pinch saffron for colour
- hot sauce or harissa for garnish (optional)
- sour cream for extra garnish (optional)
- In a pot of boiling water, blanch the cubed potatoes, and drain. They should be fork tender, but not mushy.
- In a heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat, fry pancetta in the butter until golden. Add the onions and celery to sweat until softened but not coloured. Add the sherry and cook off the alcohol, stirring constantly.
- Now add the clams, broth, saffron, and taste for salt. Add pepper and if needed, a bit of salt.
- Reduce to low heat, and add the mashed potatoes or dry potato flakes, stirring constantly. Now add the cream, bring up to a simmer, and allow to thicken. You may need to add more potato at this point. You choose how thick or thin you like your chowder.
- Add the smoked fish, cubed potatoes, and chives, stir well and serve. Or, you can, at this point, drop in some live clams and mussels, and serve when they open.
- Top with garnishes if desired.
- Adding charred corn to this soup in late summer is also delicious!