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Fish and Shellfish, Healthy Eating, Soups

Rhode Island red chowder

Rhode Island red chowder
Los Angeles Times

As I tour New England teaching cooking classes, no single subject prompts more questions and stirs more heated debate than chowder. "What makes a chowder a chowder and not a soup or stew?" "Are chowders always made with seafood?" And ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes | Serves 6
  • 1/4 pound thick-sliced bacon or salt pork, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups clam broth (or a mixture of juice drained from clams and bottled juice)
  • 1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 large bay leaf, broken in half
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups seeded diced fresh plum tomatoes
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped hard-shell clams
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 common crackers or saltines, crumbled

Step 1In a large kettle or soup pot, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels and reserve, leaving drippings in pot.

Step 2Add onions to drippings and cook until softened but not brown, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle flour over onions and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in clam broth. Add potatoes, oregano and bay leaf and simmer uncovered until potatoes are almost tender, 10 minutes. Add milk, tomatoes and clams and simmer uncovered over medium heat until potatoes are very tender, 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 3In a small dish, combine ketchup and baking soda and whisk mixture into chowder. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside for an hour or so or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Step 4When ready to serve, reheat chowder gently over medium-low heat. Remove bay leaf, add butter and swirl until melted. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Place crumbled crackers in bottoms of soup bowls and ladle chowder over them. Pass bacon or salt pork bits for sprinkling over top if desired.

Note: You can buy chopped fresh clams from a fish market or use 5 quarts of scrubbed hard-shell quahogs and steam them in a small amount of water in a large kettle until they open, 5 to 15 minutes, depending on size. Then scrape out the clam meat and chop or cut it with scissors into cranberry-size pieces. Pour cooking liquid into a glass measuring cup, let any mud settle, and pour off clean broth. This is clam liquor.


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