Northeast Times

Summer surf in a bowl

Sum­mer soup: Don’t lim­it soup to one sea­son.

Sun, surf and sand – here comes the sum­mer of 2014 at the beach. It’s the sights, the sounds and that smell of salty air. Put all these ele­ments to­geth­er and sud­denly hun­ger can strike.

Sea­shore air just seems to make me hungry. Hot dogs, pizza, ice cream and curly fries may reign su­preme for some at the shore. But for me, there’s noth­ing like a bowl of good clam chow­der.

As a souper chow­der­head, re­gard­less of the out­side tem­per­at­ure, I think a bowl of soup is good any time of the year.    But sum­mer is when I es­pe­cially crave clam chow­der. Al­though I some­times make creamy New Eng­land “chow­dah,” Man­hat­tan clam chow­der, which made the res­taur­ant scene in New York in the late 1800s, is my go-to chow­der. With its ba­con-to­mato base, this chow­der is thought to have been in­flu­enced by Por­tuguese im­mig­rants who cooked clams with pork in to­mato sauce. Eat­ing a bowl makes me about as happy as a clam, as the ex­pres­sion goes.

Clams are ac­tu­ally a pretty health­ful food. They con­tain gen­er­ous amounts of Vit­am­in B-12, iron, Vit­am­in C, lean pro­tein and omega-3 fatty acids. But they don’t con­tain much fat. With that in mind, I’m just clam-ering to share my fa­vor­ite Man­hat­tan clam chow­der re­cipe with you.                                                                                           

MAN­HAT­TAN CLAM CHOW­DER

4 slices ba­con, cut in­to 1-inch pieces

3 cel­ery stalks (in­clude some leaves), chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 car­rot, chopped

2 large pota­toes, peeled, cut in­to ½-inch chunks

20 ounces of fresh chopped clams (strain li­quid and set clams aside to be ad­ded last)

OR

Three 6½-ounce cans of chopped clams (strain li­quid and set clams aside to be ad­ded last)

16 oz. bottled clam juice

½ cup wa­ter

1 can to­ma­toes (28-ounce) - break up to­ma­toes

1 Tb­sp. minced pars­ley

1½ tsp. thyme leaves

½ tsp. pep­per

- In a large pot, cook ba­con for a few minutes un­til crisp. Re­move ba­con and set aside.

- Add cel­ery, onion, and car­rot and saut&ea­cute; un­til onion is trans­lu­cent. 

- Avoid burn­ing the ve­get­ables.

- Add pota­toes, strained clam li­quid, bottled clam juice, wa­ter, to­ma­toes, pars­ley, thyme and pep­per. Bring to a boil, stir, and turn down heat. Cov­er and cook on me­di­um low un­til pota­toes are tender.

- Add re­served clams and re­served ba­con.

- Cook for 2 or 3 minutes un­til clams are heated through.

The above re­cipe can be made in the mi­crowave. Use the same in­gredi­ents but make these ad­just­ments.

Mi­crowave In­struc­tions:

- In a 3-quart cas­ser­ole, cook ba­con on High 1½-3 minutes.

- Add cel­ery, onions, car­rots, and pota­toes. Cook 7 to 10 minutes un­til ve­get­ables are tender.

- Mean­while, drain clams and re­serve li­quid.

- Add clam li­quid, clam juice, wa­ter, pota­toes, to­ma­toes, pars­ley, thyme and pep­per to cas­ser­ole. Cook, covered 18-25 minutes un­til pota­toes are tender, stir­ring once.

- Add re­served clams. Cook, covered 2 to 3 minutes, un­til clams are heated through.

Be­fore hur­ricanes and con­struc­tion changed the road lead­ing in­to North Wild­wood (my fam­ily’s va­ca­tion des­tin­a­tion), Jim’s Clam Bar sat in the sun­shine along the en­trance to the shore, near the rick­ety bridge. Al­though their res­taur­ant was tiny, their chow­der was big-time. It was neither New Eng­land nor Man­hat­tan, but Jim’s chow­der was simple, de­li­cious and mem­or­able. Here’s a scaled-down ver­sion of their re­cipe.

JIM AND IN­EZ’S CLAM CHOW­DER

2 to 3 cups chopped clams with juice

4 large pota­toes, diced small

3 cel­ery stalks with leaves

1 car­rot

Oil – 2 or 3 Tb­sp.

2 onions

¼ tsp. cay­enne red pep­per

1 pint wa­ter (ap­prox­im­ately)

½ cup flour

- Dice pota­toes.

- Chop car­rot in blender or pro­cessor.

- Chop cel­ery in blender or pro­cessor.

- Com­bine above in­gredi­ents with wa­ter in large pot and bring to a boil.

- Chop onions in blender or pro­cessor and saut&ea­cute; in oil.

- Add onions to pot and cook for 10 minutes.

- Add pep­per and clams and bring to a boil and stir.

- Turn off heat.

- Mix flour with a little wa­ter, stir­ring un­til there are no lumps.

- Stir flour mix­ture in­to pot while whisk­ing con­stantly to dis­solve flour and bring soup back to a boil.

- Re­move pot from heat as soon as chow­der comes to a boil.      

Eat well, live long, en­joy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at Whats­cook­in­NEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the North­east Times, 3412 Pro­gress Drive, Suite C, Ben­s­alem, PA 19020)

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