25 August 2008

New Englad Clam Chowder

I am a soup lover, and clam chowder is probably one of my top 5 favorite soups. I love all cream-based soups, but I feel guilty about how bad they are for me. So, I was thrilled when I got the October 2008 issue of Eating Well in the mail today. This month, the mag published an easy clam chowder recipe that subs out most of the cream, as a 'makeover' for the traditional fat-laden chowder.

I made this delicious clam chowder tonight, and it did not disappoint. See my pictures and comments in the recipe below.

Makes 6 servings, generous 1 cup each
2 teaspoons canola oil
4 slices bacon, chopped (I used six slices!)
1 medium onion, chopped (I had two small on hand, so that’s what I used)
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried (I went with dried)
1 medium red potato, diced (I used 4 small)
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
1 bay leaf (I omitted this)
3 cups low-fat milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces fresh clam strips chopped, or 3 6-ounce cans chopped baby clams, rinsed (I used canned clams)
2 scallions, thinly sliced (I subbed fresh parsley)

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer half of the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Add onion, celery and thyme to the pan; cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.

Add potato, clam juice and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the vegetables are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Whisk milk, cream, flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add to the pan and return to a simmer, stirring, over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add clams and cook, stirring occasionally, until the clams are just cooked through, about 3 minutes more.
3. To serve, discard bay leaf. Ladle into bowls and top each serving with some of the reserved bacon and scallions.

As you can see, I made plenty of substitutions based on what I had on hand and what I like best. I used the salt called for in the recipe but found that my bowl needed more. Just do what works for you - use the recipe as a guide and add or subtract ingredients based on what makes you happy.

You can view the recipe on Eating Well's website here.

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