Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Clam Chowder

I know, it's August, but it must be cooling off somewhere.  I'm starting to think about back to school, which always includes sweaters and football, even though I never watch it anymore, and soon the holidays will be here.  Oh and rain.  I miss rain.  So in that crazy, maybe it will cool off soon hopefulness that I'm full of right now, here's how I make clam chowder.  I have to admit that I'm the worst with creating recipes for things I just do.  This probably started off with me using a recipe when I started making it years ago.  Now I just put in what I feel.  Sometimes I use carrots, sometimes I don't.  This time I went a little heavy on the vegetables, and the family kind of revolted.  They like for it to be mostly white with little glimpses of green celery.  They felt this was way too heavy on carrots.

So first, I chop all the vegetables.

Once those are chopped, I brown in butter starting with the onions then adding the celery and carrots.  I let them brown for about 5 minutes.  When those are in the pot (notice how battle scarred my pot is), I add the seasoning.  The only spice I've been using lately is thyme with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.




I know that looks like a lot of salt, but I'm going to be adding a lot of potatoes.

After I add the potatoes, I let them cook for about 5 minutes then add the stock.  Now lately I've been using clam juice.  Some people think that's gross and just use water or even chicken stock.  Since I use canned clams, I think that the clam juice helps with the flavor.  In an attempt to have at least one measurement, I poured them into a measuring cup, and it's official.  Four jars of clam juice is four cups of liquid.


I let that come to a boil and then immediately turn it down to a simmer for 20 minutes.  Notice the butter just hanging out waiting to become a roux.

Clam chowder is a relatively quick soup to make.  Some people get freaked out about making a roux, but since this once hardly cooks at all, it's a great one to start out with.  At this point during the cooking time, I'm assembling everything to get ready to serve.  The clams will go in at the last minute and heat in the soup while I'm making the roux.  You have to serve a lot of bread with this chowder.  Have to.  I use 1 cup of flour and 2 sticks of butter for my roux for this soup.  I know that's a lot and some people say it can have too flour-y a taste, but that's how we like it.  And by this point, I'm having wine.


For the roux, melt the butter and add the flour whisking constantly.  It will bubble up and turn light golden brown.  I turn the soup back up to a boil while I'm making the roux.


Once you combine the roux into the soup, it should start to seize up and thicken immediately.


It will thin out as soon as you add the cream.  Most of the time I use whole milk, but sometimes I'll splurge for some half and half.  I don't measure how much I put it but look at how far down the level is in the pot above and then where it is in the pot below.  I add as much as it takes to actually thin the chowder back down quite a bit because as the milk warms it's going to continue to thicken.


I personally don't think there were too many carrots, but since you can see them, some people think there were too many.

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