Creamy Clam Chowder
When buying clams, make sure the shells are tightly closed. Scrub them well with a vegetable brush before cooking, and discard any that do not open. For a classic garnish, be sure to serve plenty of oyster crackers with the chowder. Try them crushed and sprinkled over the top.
- 12 cherrystone clams (1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed well
- 2 slices bacon, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 large celery, stalk, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
- 1 pound new potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- Dash of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
In a large skillet, bring clams and 1 cup water to a boil. Cover; cook until clams have opened, 3 to 5 minutes (discard any that do not open). Transfer clams to a bowl. Strain liquid into a measuring cup; add water to yield 1 cup. Remove clam meat from shells; coarsely chop.
In a large saucepan, cook bacon over medium-low heat until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat. Add onion and celery; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, potatoes, cooking liquid, and 1 more cup water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Puree about 1 cup mixture in a blender until smooth. Stir puree back into soup; add cream. Simmer over low heat until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Add clams and hot sauce; season with salt and pepper.