With some recipes, I struggle for years to get them right before I'll blog about them. This is one of those recipes.
I have a postcard from "Bahston" that I've saved for 30 years (I went to boarding school in Massachusetts) with a recipe on it. Tried that. Nope, not quite right. I've tried adding lobster. Definite nope! I've tried moving the chowder from pot to pot and making a big mess. Double nope. I've tried adding bacon and vegetables. Nope, nope, nope.
Back to those boarding school years: I have very happy memories of getting a big bowl of New England clam chowder in the Boston airport--that was the taste of school happiness for me. It was the taste of the road to freedom and the road back home. Over the years, it's become one of my favorite soups, one I almost always order whenever I see it on the menu. But when I tried to make it at home, I couldn't get that thick creamy texture or the clean and simple taste.
If I'd only known it would only take about 15 minutes to make right...DOH! But at least this time I did it. And here is the secret...
Quick, Thick, and Creamy New England Clam Chowder from Scratch
- 1 pound clams, chopped (fresh or frozen; for this recipe, I only had a bag of frozen whole clams)
- 12 Tablespoons butter (it's a lot, but it's worth it; you can try cutting back if you want to)
- 6 cups whole milk
- 2 heaping Tablespoons white flour
- 2 large russet potatoes
- In a soup pot, make a roux* with 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 heaping tablespoon of flour. (*Basically, melt the butter, add the flour, and stir until it all mixes together.)
- Add 8 tablespoons of butter (a stick) to the pot and melt until bubbly.
- Add the clams and cook for about 5 minutes. Mine were frozen, so I cooked them for 6 minutes until they thawed.
- Wash, peel, and chop the potatoes into tiny cubes (the tinier they are, the faster they'll cook) then add them to the pot.
- Add the milk and cook for another 5 minutes--it's OK to let it boil!
- In a separate, smaller pan, melt the remaining butter and add a tablespoon of flour, and mix.
- Add this mixture to the gently boiling chowder in the soup pot, and stir--that is what thickens it up REAL GOOD!
- Add salt and pepper to taste and devour with saltines or chowder biscuits, which are next on my learn-to-make list.
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com