The first time I had Clam Chowder we were at Boston. At their oldest restaurant the Union Oyster House. I thought it was like a potato and bacon soup with clams. Not too bad, but not something I would eat all the time as it's a little heavy.
Clams in a jar
I make a pretty decent version of the chowder if I may say so and it's really easy to make especially here in Italy where both fresh clams and shelled clams (e.g. vongole) in jars are widely available. Fresh clams are much tastier of course, but would be a lot of work. What I do sometimes is reserve the juice from cooked fresh clams that I occasionally prepare as a starter and make a chowder with it and the clams in jars the next day. The Babies like it for the bacon and potato.
Clam Chowder (2-3 persons) :
130g (drained weight) of Clams (but keep the juice) or 1 Kg of fresh Clams
200g Potatoes (for soup or puree, in small cubes)
90g smoked Bacon (chopped)
1 Onion (chopped)
1 Garlic clove (chopped)
Half of a small Leek (white part, sliced - optional)
Half a Celery stalk (chopped - optional)
1.5 Tbsp Flour
3 Tbsp White Wine
100ml Crème Frâiche
1 Bay leaf
1 Tsp Worchestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
If using fresh clams, wash them and eliminate those that wouldn't close. Cook them in a little bit of water till they open up. Filter the juice and set it aside. Remove the clams from their shells and set aside. Most clam chowders contain chopped clams, but I like my clams whole.
Melt the butter in a pot and fry the onions, garlic and bacon till fragrant.
Add in the leek, potatoes and celery and fry them in the fragrant fat. Add in the bay leaf and thyme.
Add in the flour and stir to mix well. Wet with the white wine.
Pour in the clam juice followed by the milk. Simmer for 20-30 minutes (or till the potatoes are soft), stirring from time to time.
Add in the clams, stir in the cream and worchestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. The soup can be served as it is or mixed to desired consistency.
Garnish with fresh parsley and serve hot with crackers or croutons.