Now that the Midwest has experienced real snowfall, it’s finally winter. What’s my favorite part of winter? The soup! (If you knew me, you’d know that skiing, sleding, skating, and clearing the driveway were not going to be it!)As they say, soup soothes the soul. It also warms you up and fills you up. And what pairs beautifully with a bowl of nice warm homemade soup? Bread! Soup and bread – the comfort food tandem of the season. My choice for today – New England Clam Chowder and Corn Bread.
Most are familiar with the two types of clam chowder – New England and Manhattan. New England clam “chowda” is traditionally cream or broth- based, with potatoes and sauteed onions. Manhattan clam chowder has a tomato base and no cream. My favorite tomato-based seafood soup (really more of a stew), is cioppino, an American-Italian dish. That’s a Ken thing; recipe to come later. On to the New England style clam chowder.
I make this chowder recipe because it tastes great. I also make it because it makes a ton – almost a gallon! Plenty to eat, plenty to gift and leftovers to freeze. Totally my kind of recipe. So grab your Dutch oven, cutting board & ingredients, and let’s get cooking.
Start by cooking the bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan, and transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain, reserving 1 teaspoon drippings in the pan. Once cooled, crumble the bacon and set aside.
Add the chopped onion and celery, salt, thyme, and minced garlic to the drippings in the pan. Cook for five minutes or less, or until vegetables are tender.
Drain the clams, reserving the liquid. [Note about the clams. The recipe calls for chopped clams, but I use whatever I have on hand – chopped or minced.] Add the clam liquid, diced potato, clam juice, and bay leaf to pan and bring to a boil. When the soup begins to boil, reduce the heat, and simmer 15 minutes (or until potatoes are tender.) At this point you can discard bay leaf.
Combine the milk and flour, and stir with a whisk until smooth. (Lumps are not good…) Add this flour mixture to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook the mixture about 12 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Now add the clams and cook just two minutes. (No one likes rubber clams.)
When ready to serve, ladle the warm chowder into bowls, sprinkle with bacon and garnish with thyme.
New England Clam Chowder
- Two bacon slices
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 1 1/4 cups chopped celery
- Half teaspoon salt
- Half teaspoon dried thyme
- Two garlic clothes minced
- Six 6 1/2 ounce cans chopped clams, Undrained
- 5 cups diced peeled baking potato – about 1 pound
- 4 8- ounce bottles of clam juice
- One bay leaf
- 3 cups milk
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- fresh thyme for garnish
Cook bacon in a larger Dutch oven over medium heat until Chris. Remove bacon from Pam, reserving 1 teaspoon drippings in the pan. Crumbled bacon; set aside. Add onion, celery, salt, time, and garlic to drippings in the pan; cook four minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Drain clams, reserving liquid. Add clam liquid, potato, clam juice, and bay leaf to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Discard Bayleaf
Combined milk and flour, staring with a whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 12 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. And clams; cook two minutes. Sprinkle with bacon and garnish with thyme.
On to the Blue Ribbon Corn Bread!
In the bread department, you may consider oyster crackers, saltines, french bread, or sourdough bread to go with your chowder, but I always go for cornbread. In particular, the award winning (West Virginia State Fair “Best of Show”) cornbread recipe of Cathy Justice, the wife of Greenbrier Hotel’s owner Jim Justice. It’s served at the hotel, and really a treat.
Ken and I’ve enjoyed the Greenbrier Hotel on more than one occasion – all of which involved great golf. It’s a beautiful property, and the cornbread recipe was a bonus!
Back to the bread… Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare an 8” x 8” pan with cooking oil spray. (I used canola oil spray.) Mix all dry ingredients together and add the liquids. Stir softly to mix – but don’t over mix. Bake for 30 minutes and cool slightly before cutting into servings. It could not be simpler!
Now serve your delicious clam chowder and cornbread (with plenty of butter, maybe a little honey.) I guarantee you can fall asleep in your chair watching television after dinner.
Blue Ribbon Corn Bread
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/16 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg slightly beaten
- 3/4 cup canola oil
Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare an 8” x 8” pan with cooking spray. Mix all dry ingredients.
Add liquids. Stir softly to mix. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting into servings.
Leftovers. Lunch, Freezing & Gifting.
Unless you fed a crowd, you’ll have leftovers. Since it’s just Ken & I at home – and sometimes only me – we have plenty.
Perfect for lunch the next day, ladle a portion or two of the soup into a covered container and refrigerate. After couple of minutes in the microwave the next day, soup’s on! I wrap the cornbread pieces in plastic wrap, and they’re good to go the next day as well.
I’ve already confessed to being a freezaholic and promised to show you how I make my “freeze-em’ flat” soups for easy & organized freezing. Here’s how to do it.
Label quart zip freezer bags with the type of soup you’re freezing. (I use labels in case I want to use the bag again, but feel free to write on the bag with a marker. (Yes, unless a bag is funky, I wash & dry it for another use. My Mom used to do that and drive us crazy. Now I do it. “Apples don’t fall far from the tree.”)
I use a canning funnel to help keep the food going in the right direction, but if you’re more steady-handed than I, just ladle in the soup. Bend the sealing edge down slightly to remove as much air as possible. Lay flat on a baking sheet (double layers if needed) and freeze until solid. Then you’re ready to file the awesome clam chowder away for another winter day. To delve deeper into my freezer obsession, please read the A Hunk, a Hunk of Freezin’ Love post.
To share the bounty, ladle soup into a wide-mouth canning jar (easier not to make a mess) and put on the lid. A ribbon at the top is not required, but it does please the recipient! Add a small bag of that scrumptious cornbread, and you have a welcome delivery for a friend.
Believe me, it took a lot longer to take the photos and write this post than it did to make, eat, freeze, gift and clean up! Enjoy making these recipes and let me know how you liked them.