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Manhattan Clam Chowder

Manhattan Clam Chowder
Bacon adds heartiness to this classic chowder. Look for the kind that has been smoked over applewood, which gives it a sweet flavor. Purchase thick-sliced bacon for a more intense smoky taste. Many gourmet food stores and catalogs now feature artisanal bacon from farms where the pork is cured with flavors like maple, garlic, red pepper, and herbs and spices.

Ingredients:

  • 4 thick-cut bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 leeks, white and light green portions, rinsed and finely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes with juices
  • 2 cans (each 6 1/2 oz.) minced clams, juices drained and reserved
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Chowder crackers for serving (optional)

Directions:

In a soup pot over medium-high heat, sauté the bacon until browned but not crisp, about 3 minutes. Add the leeks, celery and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and nicely coated, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes with their juices, 3 cups water and the reserved clam juices, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Using a handheld or stand blender, coarsely puree the soup, leaving some texture. Add the clams, season with salt and pepper, and add the lemon juice. Return the soup to medium-low heat and cook gently until the clams are heated through, about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Add the parsley and stir to combine.

Ladle the chowder into warmed bowls, top with the crackers and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook, Edited by Chuck Williams (Free Press, 2008).