Over the course of my shellfishing, I’ve tried chowder every which way from Sunday — Manhattan (tomato-based), New England (cream-based), Rhode Island (broth based). They’re all good, but they all have the same problem.
Here’s the problem. You sit down to a steamy bowl of clam chowder and take a spoonful. It’s got a big, off-white chunk in it and you think it’s a clam, but you put it in your mouth and discover that it’s a potato and you’re disappointed.
I like potatoes, and I think they have a place in chowder, but I want to avoid potato disappointment. To do that, I cook the potatoes, onions, and corn in the liquids and, before I add any other ingredients, I run that mixture through the blender. No potato chunks! As a bonus, you get a nice thick base that doesn’t need a lot of cream (and certainly doesn’t need corn starch, which has no place in chowder, ever).
3 strips bacon (3-4 ounces)
2 small onions, chopped
1 small Russet potato, diced small
1 cup corn kernels – I use frozen
1 cup clam juice
2 cups chicken stock + 3 cups water, or 5-6 cups liquid
2 t. canola oil
4 ribs celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3-4 cups chopped clams
Salt, pepper, Marsala, and cream or half and half to taste
In a medium pot, fry the bacon until semi-crisp, remove it to drain. Saute the onions in the bacon fat until wilted, add the potato and corn and sauté for a little while longer. Add the clam juice, stock, and water, and bring to a boil. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked.
Put the contents of the pot into a blender, and blend smooth.
Put the pot back on the stove, add the canola oil and the carrots. After a few more minutes, add the celery. Saute until soft, add a little water to the pot, bring it to a boil. Cover and cook until the carrots and celery are done, about 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the cooked bacon. Add it and the clams to the pot, and cook another minute or two. Add the liquid from the blender. Add salt, pepper, Marsala, snd cream to taste. Be careful with the Marsala, though – a tablespoon or two is all you need.