After a trip down to the coast where hubby and I got to do our once a year two days to ourselves, and a new tomato sensitivity diagnosis for S, I decided it was time to re-visit New England clam chowder. We eat clam chowder just about every day when visiting Astoria, Seaside and Cannon Beach, and the delicious cups of soup particularly from the Pig 'n Pancake are still fresh in our minds. We have also been testing my youngest for food sensitivities the past couple weeks. So far my poor girl will have to avoid wheat, soy, corn, eggs, tomato and yeast. Next test will be rice and potatoes. (Oh please let them be negative!) Still, after only two weeks of avoiding those foods, her school performance and behavior has improved 200%. We have been through this once before with R, who was originally sensitive to soy, corn, dairy, eggs, tomato, potato, rice and yeast. We just traded wheat for dairy this time. Fortunately they still allow spelt! It's hard to lose the tomatoes though, since we love them in our soups and both girls eat them like apples. So the other night I was looking to make soup and didn't want to fall back on chicken noodle. The weather said chowder and I happened to have all the ingredients necessary. This version turned out even better than my previous one and hubby gave it two thumbs up. It is not super thick like the Pig's chowder, but it is nicely clammy, rich and creamy with great flavor. If you don't happen to have bacon grease on hand, you can fry up a few slices to snack on or freeze and use that rendered grease, or just substitute butter.
Oregon Coast Clam Chowder
2 tsp bacon grease
½ onion, chopped
½ onion, finely diced
6 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, pressed
5 stalks celery, finely diced
fresh ground black pepper
6 tbsp spelt flour or all purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
½ tsp sea salt
3 cans (6.5 oz each) chopped clams in their juice (if you're on the coast and it's clam season, use fresh clams!)
2 bottles (8 oz each) clam juice
3 medium potatoes, cubed (yukon or russet work fine)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
½ tsp dried dillweed
Melt the bacon grease in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute the first half an onion, chopped, until tender. Remove and set aside. Now melt the butter in the same pan. Add the second half an onion, finely diced, garlic, celery and a good grind of pepper, about ¼ tsp. Cook and stir for about 7 minutes until the celery is tender and the onion is translucent. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Add the chicken broth, salt and milk. Bring to a boil. Cook for a minute or so until thickened. If you prefer a thicker chowder, try increasing the flour to a full ½ cup to get a very thick cream soup base.
While the celery and onion mixture is cooking, pour the clam juice in another pot and simmer with the potatoes for about 10-15 minutes, gently stirring on occasion to prevent sticking. If there isn't enough liquid to cover the potatoes, add the juice from the clams as well. When the celery mixture is thickened, add the potatoes and clam juice, and the reserved onions. Add the milk, cream, and dillweed and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender. Stir in the clams and cook until heated through.