One of my daughter’s favourite soups is clam chowder. For the longest time, I had always have this misconception that clam chowder must be very difficult and hard to make. I assumed that it takes hours and loads of work to prepare and cook. But it’s hard to find really good clam chowder at restaurants here nowadays. We’ve had horrible clam chowder at different places…some are watery, some tastes like regular mushroom soup, some just taste really weird.
So, my daughter turned two recently and since it’s her birthday (and feeling guilty that I didn’t bake her birthday cake because we got her a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake) I thought, I might as well try my hand at making our own clam chowder, I trawled the net or the recipe and was pleasantly surprised that it’s easy to make and you can even ‘cheat’ by using some canned soup. As usual, I look at the recipes and came out with my own concoction which tastes rather good, if I may say so myself!
All you need are the ingredients, some stir-frying and then you just dump everything into the pot, stir occasionally and that’s it. Easy peasy. No fuss. Simple. Easy. And you get steaming bowls of homecooked clam chowder, enough to feed a family of four and with leftovers too (that I distributed to our neighbours).
You have two options of either using canned clams or fresh clams. But with fresh clams, you may need to soak it and make sure that you get rid of all the sand. Then, you will need to boil it for a few minutes, add some salt and use the water as clam stock.
Here’s a collage of the first few steps…
Please look at the sequence in clockwise. The potatoes are last to go in. After adding in the potatoes, you stir fry it a few minutes before adding the clam stock. Let it simmer till the potatoes are soft, then you add the canned soup and cream. You also add the bay leave and thyme for extra flavours. The clam will have to be minced and added last, it is best to be added just 10 minutes before you serve the soup hot from the stove.
Here’s the recipe proper:
Easy Clam Chowder Recipe
1 can creamy mushroom soup / mushroom potage
2 cups thick cream
1 can clams (remove the clams and minced it, reserve the liquid)
1 bay leave
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 large onions, chopped
2 slices lean bacon (about 100g), minced
3 – 4 potatoes, skinned, cubed
1 cup celery, chopped
2 tbsp butter
1. Heat up the pot and add butter.
2. Sautee the bacon till fragrant in medium heat.
3. Add the onions and sautee for a few minutes till the onion is about softened.
4. Add in the potatoes and sautee for a few minutes.
5. Add in the liquid from the can of clams. Let it simmer till the potatoes are softened. If it’s too dry, just add some water but not too much or it may become watery.
6. Add in the canned soup and the cream. Stir till well mixed. Make sure heat is either medium or medium low to avoid burning and do not let it boil.
7. Add in the herbs & celery and let it simmer for a few minutes, making sure it doesn’t boil.
8. After about 5 minutes of simmering, add in the minced clams. Let it simmer for another five minutes and immediately serve. If you do not plan to serve yet, do not add the clams yet. Just turn off the heat and let it stand covered. When you are about to serve, turn on medium heat, add the clams, stir and let it simmer for five minutes or so.
And there you have it!
Easy and simple. But of course, if you want to use fresh clams, you buy about 3 cups of clams, wash it, soak it to remove the sand. Then you boil about 5 cups of water, add 1 tsp salt, boil the clams for a few minutes until the shells open(that’s when it’s cooked) and remove the clams. Reserve the water to use as stock in the soup but strain it to remove any residual sand. If you do not want to use canned soup, you simple need to use 1 cup milk, 2 cups thick cream & 1/2 cup chicken stock. Also add salt to taste.
You can even turn it into seafood chowder by adding squids, shrimps, crab meat and fish. However, the stock you use will have to be 1/2 cup chicken stock & 1/2 cup fish stock. Otherwise, you can boil the shrimp shells together with the clams and use the water as the seafood stock.
Clam chowder is great to eat with toast, as it is or as starter to a larger meal. For us, we eat is as accompaniment to pasta, salad and a side of grilled pork ribs.