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)
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 sauté 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.
- 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
Oil – 2 or 3 Tbsp.
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 sauté 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)