Thursday, October 3, 2013

Clam Chowder Fall's First Soup from Summer's Inspiration

Not that anyone would be surprised that I am writing about a rich creamy seafood soup, but there really is more than meets the eye to my love of this soup. It's just like many dishes I have shared on this blog that have a place in my personal history or the history of my friends and family.

Clam Chowder has long been one of my favorite things since I can remember. I  just love it's texture and silken goodness, lingering on the spoon and gently cooling until it can be eaten when served up properly hot and fresh. My grandma ( Maternal)  who lived with us growing up made it sometimes at home and I loved it. When I was in college my friend Chris Schaffer introduced me to the Fish Market a chowder House in Alexandria Virginia where one paired steaming bowls of chowder with large flagons of beer. And of course it was on the menu at the D Hall (Dinning Hall) at JMU where I went to school. Later in life I attended a wedding in New England where the rehearsal dinner centered around a "Chowder and Salad Bar", which was actually really awesome.

All of these previous encounters pale when placed next to my exposure to this and various other seafood dishes during my first and subsequent stays on the Cape in Provincetown. As those of you know who read this blog I am a big fan of Provincetown in my culinary life as well as regular life adventures there. I go to Ptown every year for at least a week and no Summer would be complete for me without a trip to it's iconic shores. For me, Ptown is home to classic New England seafood dishes and what is more classic than Clam Chowder.

Now waxing poetical about Ptown is one of those things that I have done before on this blog. I think it's such iconic a place in terms of it's statuesque New England beauty, that it defies description a little. In fact for me it is really a very magical place. A place where the light and the sea and the sky all come together as one. Every year I buy a piece of art to remember my summer by. And then in the deep Winter I can gaze up at my walls and remember the glory of those magical Summer days in Ptown. When all is right with the world and there is no problem that can't be solved by spending time in the Sun doing something fun, a great happy hour at Tea Dance and an evening of cooking or dining out and going out on the town till the early hours. All around just fun.

There are many many recipes for clam chowder that vary in their ingredients and their subsequent taste and texture. Some people like a thick chowder and some like a thin chowder. Either way it equals delicious. It's all a matter of personal preference but I prefer a little body to my chowder. Thin chowder just seems sad to me. So here is my recipe for bringing the  essence of Summer seafood and Summer memories back into your kitchen and onto your table even if the Winter is raging outside. Enjoy Ya'll.

Forrest's Clam Chowder ( makes 9 cups)

For the roux 1 cup flour and 3/4 cups butter
5 bottles 8 oz of clam juice for a total of 5 cups
5 medium potatoes peeled and diced medium
2 large onions diced medium
2 stalks celery finely diced
3 tablespoons butter
6 strips of bacon diced
1 1/2 pound diced clams
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup light cream
2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Dash of sherry vinegar


In a pan saute the bacon till done remove and drain discard the grease
Saute onions and celery in the butter till soft and translucent but not brown
To this pot add the potatoes and clam juice and pepper
Bring to boil  and cook till potatoes are done then reduce heat to low
In another pot add the butter and flour and cook till slightly browned and the flour taste is cooked out
Slowly add the milk till the sauce thickens
Add the two pots together add the bacon and cream and the Worcestershire
Slowly simmer till thick and all combined. If too thick thin with milk.
Add clams just before serving then simmer a few minutes and serve.



  1. Did I ever share the story of PG and his chowder? Occasionally (when I'm not feeling as lazy as usual) he'll teach me a dish of his, and I take copious notes. Which provides for much comedy later, because I'll get out my notes, recreate his dish in front of him, and he'll tell me I'm doing it all wrong and using all the wrong ingredients, apparently ignoring the fact that I'm simply reproducing everything he'd done earlier, with written evidence to prove it.

    I watched him make chowder a few times and so had two sets of notes. One day I decided to surprise him with a chowder dinner, but was wondering which notes to follow. So I called one of his work colleagues, a New Englander, who was horrified at both sets of notes. She then instructed me to make a chowder EXACTLY as a true New Englander would. Unfortunately I do not have notes from that particular session, although when PG got home he swore that it's what he'd told me to do all along. I love him.

  2. That is so funny Coaster Punchman! I think that many cooks definitely cook by feel and not by recipe. That's why I am trying on this blog to actually give directions and amounts that will replicate what I do. But to be honest I still cook by feel a lot and it comes out a little different every time! But at least I am creating a baseline here that others can follow. Thanks for your comments. Feel free to comment on any other the previous material if you read it and the spirit moves you!