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Easy Clam Chowder

If desired, you can use the meat of 2 lb. freshly steamed clams. Discard any clams that fail to close to the touch, then steam them in a wide, covered saucepan with 1 cup water until they open. Discard any clams that do not open. Let cool, then remove the meat from the shells.

Ingredients:

  • 3 bacon slices, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/4 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 red potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cans (each 6 1/2 oz.) chopped clam meat, plus reserved clam liquor
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook the bacon and vegetables
In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring often, until it starts to brown and has rendered some of its fat, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.

Add the butter to the bacon drippings in the pan. When the butter melts, add the celery, onion, thyme and bay leaf and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and stir well. Add the reserved clam liquor and the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Finish the soup
Add the milk and cream to the saucepan and stir to combine. Add the clam meat and heat through, then season with salt and pepper. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Ladle the chowder into individual bowls, garnish with the cooked bacon and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Soup, by Georgeanne Brennan (Oxmoor House, 2006).