In the beginning of July, I spent a few days in San Francisco. While there, I ate clam chowder a couple of times at a very popular restaurant at Fisherman's Wharf. It was packed to the brim with tourists. The soup was served in a hearty, sourdough bread bowl.
The soup was good. When I got back, I decided to make my own clam chowder. It was the first meal I made while getting back into the grove of things.
Clams area bivalve mollusks. They have a flat body that is encased in a shell with two parts connected with a hinge. They an live in the ocean or freshwater. The live at the bottom of bodies of water.
There are a few species that are eaten in North America. They are eaten raw, steamed, baked, or fried. We also eat them in clam chowder. In New England people do clam bakes where clams are baked in hot stones and seaweed.
In Japan, clams are eaten in miso soups and hot pot. In Italy, they are eaten in pasta dishes. They are eaten in curries in India. The Moche people of ancient Peru worshiped the sea. The softened depicted clams in their artwork.
I used a clam chowder recipe from allrecipes.com as the base. I added garlic, chicken bouillon, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, red chili flakes, and bacon to the original recipe.
The ingredients are 3 6.5 ounce cans minced clams, 1 minced onion, 1 cup diced celery, 2 cubs cubed potatoes, 1 cup died carrots, 1/2 cup butter, 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 quart half-and-half, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, ground pepper, 2 bay leaves, 3 teaspoons chicken bouillon, 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and 4 strips bacon. I didn't used minced clams, and I didn't chop them up before adding them to the soup. That was a mistake because the whole clams were a bit unwieldy in the soup.
I fried the bacon in a large pot. Once it the bacon was crisp and golden, I removed the bacon from the pan and let it drain on a paper towel.
I cooked the diced onion in the bacon grease for three to four minutes over medium-high heat.
I added the minced garlic clove and let mixture sauté for another three minutes.
I added the carrots, potatoes, and celery.
I covered the vegetables with water. I added the chicken bouillon, a couple teaspoons of salt, bay leaves, the clam juice from the cans, Worcestershire sauce, and red chili flakes. I brought the water up to a boil and let it simmer until the vegetables were soft. This took over ten minutes.
While the vegetables were simmering, I melted the butter in another pot.
I added the all purpose flour.
I cooked this over medium heat for a few minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.
I gradually added the half-and-half stirring continuously.
After adding some half-and-half, I would stir until the sauce was perfectly amalgamated. I continued this process until there was no more half-and-half.
I stirred the sauce until it had thickened. This took about five minutes after the last of the half-and-half had been added.
I poured the thickened sauce into the pot with the tender vegetables.
I chopped the cooked bacon and added it to the pot.
I added the clams. I should have chopped these clams because they were too large to be eaten whole.
I added the red wine vinegar. I stirred and removed the pot from the heat.
It was ready to go at this point. I dished it up and dug in.
It was scrumptious. The chowder was hearty and filling.
It was creamy, buttery, and smooth. The broth was flavorful.
The vegetables were tender. I ended up cutting the clams in my bowl because they were too large to eat whole.
It had a brine flavor and a hint of heat. There was also a little acidity from the vinegar. The bacon also gave the soup a meaty flavor.
I was very rich. It wasn't a healthy recipe because of the cream and butter, but it was a lucious and decadent chowder.
I ate this over a few days, and it stored well in the refrigerator. It was a delicious soup. I think it was more flavorful than the chowder I ate in San Fransisco.