Auntie Suzanne’s Clam Chowder
Suzanne and I were blissful newlyweds when she introduced me to homemade clam chowder. It was an AH HAH moment for me, much like buying blueberries, but opposite? YOU CAN MAKE CLAM CHOWDER? What?? My mother usually made fish chowder and I firmly believed there should be no risk of bones in any chowder. This experience was life changing! Okay, humor me, it was a wonderful experience! Making your own clam chowder is super easy and tastes so much better than any chowder from a can. You can adapt this recipe, as you like. You like more clams than potatoes? Add more clams, reduce potatoes. Too creamy? Add less half and half and more milk. It’s that simple. Soup is not a science. It’s an opportunity to create a taste experience that is yours. Here’s the best hint when you cook….you can add, but you cannot take away!
As always, please read any recipe thoroughly before attempting. I like to give the original recipe with changes and suggestions in the body of the text.
2 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, diced
3 cans MINCED clams, juice included
2 cups boiled and drained potatoes (approximately)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of ½ n ½
1 cup milk
Boiled potatoes. Let me give you my secret way to boil potatoes for this chowder and my potato salad recipe: boil them with their skins on. Really. Put the potatoes in a pan, cover with water, and boil for about 30 minutes. They should be fork tender with skins pulling away. Take them out of the water and let them cool on a plate. After the potatoes have cooled, the skins pull right off. This method keeps the potato firm and prevents them from getting mushy in the chowder. It takes a little longer than peeling and boiling potatoes but it makes the world of difference. When they are cooled and peeled, cut them into small pieces. Remember, they must fit on a soupspoon! You can even cook the potatoes a day ahead and then refrigerate them. This is the most time consuming part of the recipe. You’re almost there!
In a 4-quart pan, sauté diced onion. I like onions. The original recipe called for a medium onion. I would say more like 2 medium or one large onion makes this chowder. I suggest dicing the onion and putting it in a bowl, then heat the pan. You don’t want to burn or brown the onions. Put the butter in the pan and on a medium heat, sweat those onions. If need be, lower the heat. To help them sweat, sprinkle some salt on them, this helps draw the water out the onion. If the pan is looking a little dry, add a little more butter. It’s okay! You want the onion yellow/clear and soft. Don’t forget to stir the onions. Don’t walk away from them!
Once the onion is tender, put the canned MINCED clams with their juices, in the onions. I usually put in 4 cans of minced clams and use about 3 large potatoes. You can adjust it accordingly. Put the lid on the pan and simmer the clams for 5 minutes.
I hope you’re hungry, because we are almost done. At this point you stir in the half–n-half and milk. Stir the chowder and let it heat on low until it’s warm. Add the diced potatoes and continue to warm. You never want to boil milk or half-n-half. NEVER. Let it just warm through on low heat. I like to let it heat for about 15 minutes. The flavors all blend together. Add salt and pepper to taste.