As soon as the last bit of snow melts I go through a bit of a Spring cleaning craze. I tear the house apart, organizing as I go, and put away our winter clothing in anticipation of warmer weather. The only problem is that every year, like clockwork, we have a late cold snap that makes me regret pulling out my tank tops and shorts. I thought I was in the clear this year, our weather has been unusually warm, but just before I left on my trip to Oklahoma things took a turn for the worst. The temperature dipped down in to the low 40s at night and I found myself regretting the fact that all my sweaters had been neatly boxed up and put away.
You would think that by now I would have learned, but no, I'm a bit stubborn in my hopes for warmer weather. It's one of the many things I've missed since moving up North. So instead of burying myself under a mountain of blankets to keep warm I snuck into the kitchen and made a huge batch of chowder. I figured that it would warm me from the inside while insuring I didn't have to worry about cooking for a few days. I spent the rest of the week running around doing laundry like a mad woman and packing up the entire house to take with me on my two week trip to visit my family. My plan was a success and even better, by the time I returned home the weather had warmed up enough that I could get an early start on my summer tan.
While it's getting a little warm for chowder in many parts of the world, there really is never a wrong time to make chowder. My advice for those of you who facing an early summer, crank your air down low and enjoy some anyway. One bite and I promise you'll thank me, at least up until the point you get your electric bill.
1 - 2 pieces applewood-smoked bacon, crumbled
3 - 4 red potatoes, diced
1 leek, diced
1 shallot, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon salted butter
1 Tablespoon bacon grease
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half & half or heavy cream
2 cans clams + juice, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
additional salt and black pepper, to taste
- In a large pot cook bacon until crispy, set aside to cool. Add leek, shallot, garlic, and butter to the bacon grease left in the pot. Cook vegetables over low heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 minutes or until the leek has softened. Do not allow the shallots to brown.
- In a separate pot add potatoes and cover with cold water. Cook over high heat for approximately 10 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Once cooked transfer the potatoes to a colander and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process. Allow cooled potatoes to drain and set aside for later.
- Add flour to the cooked vegetables and stir until everything is well coated. If there is still bacon grease left in the pot add additional flour as needed until it has been soaked up by the flour.
- Add half & half or heavy cream, clams and juice, then bring the contents of the pot to a simmer. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 minutes or until the soup has thickened. Turn off the heat, add the cooked potatoes, additional salt and pepper, to taste, then allow then soup to rest for an hour before rewarming and serving.
Optional: top with crumbled bacon and oyster crackers before serving.
Make sure you don't skip the resting period for this soup, it allows the potatoes time to soak up the flavor from the clams. For best results you can make this soup a day ahead of time, then rewarm it before serving.