Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hearty Bacon Clam Chowder

There are some annoying questions asked in this world.  Such as, what are you going to be for Halloween.  I don't know.  Myself?  I get all stressed out even thinking of what to be.  I am absolutely not creative.  And I can't pull off one of those clever easy costume things like scribbling the word book on your face so you can say you are "facebook".  I also hate spending money on costumes.  So I just tend to avoid it.  And then Halloween comes, or some other Halloween activity rolls around, and I dress in my normal clothes.  Or maybe, maybe - a festive Halloween shirt.  I probably sound like the Halloween grinch.  I like other parts of the festivities!  Like the previously posted candy mix.  How can someone be anti-candy?  And we make silly little holiday crafts and carve pumpkins and watch something scary.  But I just don't want to dress up.

Another annoying question is "soup or salad?"  In what world is this an okay question to ask?  How is that even answerable until you know all the possibilities!  Not all soups are the same! Chicken noodle is not crab bisque.  It is not.  I probably wouldn't order chicken noodle unless I was super sick, but then I probably wouldn't be in a restaurant to begin with.  So it just wouldn't happen.  And not all salads are the same!  What lettuce is being used?  What other things are on the salad?  What dressings do you have?  These are all critical pieces of information for us to have to make an informed decision!  Anyways, I'm not sure I've come anywhere close to talking about this clam chowder, except to say, it's hearty, it's bacon-y, and given a choice between this soup and almost any salad, I'd have to go with the clam chowder.

3 cups half and half
1 cup whole milk
1 sprig thyme
8 peppercorns
2 peeled garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
extra virgin olive oil
6 pieces of bacon, chopped
2 russet potatoes, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 small shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
plus more olive oil if needed
8 ounces clam juice
1/2 cup white wine
2 (6.5ounces) cans of chopped clams
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper

Gently heat the milk, cream, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, and sprig of thyme in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Don’t let the mixture boil.  Once the mixture is very hot, take off heat and let the aromatics infuse the milk for 20 minutes. 

In a small pot, melt the butter, then whisk in the flour.  Keep stirring, until it begins to bubble (about 2 minutes or so).  Take off heat and set aside.

In a large pot, pour a bit of olive oil in to cover the bottom, and get the oil nice and hot.  Add the bacon, and let it crisp up (about 5 minutes or so).  Once it has crisped up, remove from the pan using tongs.  Set on a paper towel.  Add in the chopped potatoes.  let the potatoes cook in the bacon fat for a bit (about 3 minutes or so).  Then add in the celery, carrots, shallots.  Cook (feel free to add more oil if needed) until the potatoes have begun to brown.  Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).  Stir in the white wine.  Reduce, then add the clam juice, and cans of chopped clams.  Add in the the infused milk and reserved flour mixture (roux).  Stir, and cook until the vegetables have achieved the desired tenderness, and the chowder has become thick.  Add the salt and peppers, and adjust seasonings.  


  1. I dread the soup or salad question too. :s
    But I'd certainly want several bowls of this chowder! Salad schmalad.

  2. You can be as grinchy as you please if you give me some of this soup!

  3. As the temperatures are dropping, more chowders like this will come in handy. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Nothing quite like some delicious soup, no questions asked ;)

    Choc Chip Uru

  5. Soup or salad is a complicated question. It's for true.

    Michael would be ALL OVER this. Clam chowder + bacon?! Ohhh yeah!

  6. I grew up with chowdah in Maine but I don't think it ever looked this good. Gorgeous photos!

  7. Oh, boy, does this look fantastic...I'd pick your clam chowder over any ol' salad, for sure!!!!

  8. I always have to go for the Clam Chowder regardless of the salad choices. If Clam Chowder is on the menu, then that's my pick :D

  9. As a New Englader I give this chowda my seal of approval - it looks delicious!

  10. Given a choice I would pick this soup of yours.

  11. I'm a total Halloween grinch too! I can never figure out what to dress up as. I just stay at home and eat all the treats. Now this soup is amazing! it looks so hearty and comforting! And I would choose this over a salad any day of the week!

  12. I didn't grow up here so I always dream about dressing up for fun on Halloween and become someone else (watching too many movies and shows on TV). However, after I came here I realized that most of the costumes are all sexy outfits (anything can be sexy, crazy!)! So I'll be me, but my kids are so excited about Halloween already. :) I love your clam chowder. I always order if it's on the menu!

  13. I'm all over the bacon spike. For someone who doesn't like mollusks (i.e. me) clam chowder is something I've always eaten and loved (maybe my dislike of mollusks is psychological?). Either way, this looks awesome.

  14. I'm actually very picky about my soups and salads because they're so easy to make at home, that when I eat's usually not worth it to get one! LOVE this chowder though. Definitely worth it.

  15. Creamy and hearty! Perfect for the soup weather we have over here.

  16. This reminds me-- I was just complaining about a salad at a restaurant the other day. No complaints about this soup though. Looks great for a chilly fall day!

  17. LOVE soups when the weather gets cold! And anything with bacon in it..I'm totally all for it :)

  18. Jenn, I happen to be a Halloween ba humbug, too. I just can't see wasting my money on a costume I'm never going to wear again. Honestly, I'd rather buy food.

    This soups sounds absolutely amazing, and I can't wait to try it. I love chowda!

  19. Sounds perfect for early spring.


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