Why did we wait so long to make this chowder? No idea, but we're glad we finally went through with it. This New England Clam Chowder was easy to make and absolutely delicious!
We researched many recipes online before settling on a version of this one for The Cliff House Clam Chowder from The Cliff House in Ogunquit, Maine. How could we go wrong with that one, right? It had all the elements we saw on the other recipes - smokey bacon and sweet onions, cubed potatoes, clam juice and cream, and chopped clams, of course!
We altered the recipe only slightly by adding a couple stalks of minced celery and increasing the recipe by half - so 1.5 of the measurements in that recipe - but not exactly 1.5 of each ingredient...
And yes, we made the full-on "Cliff House Spice Blend" with these measurements: 2 tsps oregano, 2 tsps dried parsley, 1 tsps marjoram (we didn't have marjoram, so we added some Turkish Oregano instead), 1 tsps dill, 2 tsps thyme, 2 tsps basil, 1/2 tsp sage, 2 tsps rosemary, 1 tsps tarragon, 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour, crushed in a makeshift mortar. Stored in a resealable plastic bag to refrigerate, there is WAY more than you'd need for the clam chowder, but this makes a nice spice blend for anything savory you're making...
Boil the potatoes before hand... We diced the potatoes to 1/2-inch cubes and added those and the minced celery to COLD water, covered, and brought it up to a boil, then uncovered and they're ready in 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
For the chowder, our updated ingredient list looked like this:
- 3 slice hickory-smoked bacon, minced
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 2 cups onion (one really nice-sized onion), minced
- 2 medium garlic clove, minced
- 1.5 teaspoon The Cliff House Spice Blend (see below)
- 1.5 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 can clams (6-1/2 ounces) - WITH the juice reserved!
- 1 cup bottled clam juice
- 2.5 cups Half and Half
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 3 medium potatoes AND two stalks of celery, peeled, diced, and boiled.
This candle did nothing to stop the tears caused by that onion...
Then, we just followed their directions, our comments in bold:
In a heavy-bottomed dutch oven sauté bacon, butter, onion, garlic and The Cliff House Spice Blend over low heat. Do not allow to brown - very important! Even if it does brown a little, don't scrape those brown bits up like you would in other deglazed sauces!.
Drain clams and set aside, reserving the juice. Slowly stir the flour and clam juices in the sauté mixture. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Add Half and Half and simmer 20 minutes. Carefully watch the temp during this time - getting just the right simmer is tough with the 1/2-n-1/2. Add white pepper, potatoes and clams. Add the potatoes first, wait a couple minutes, then finally add the clams! Heat to serving temperature. Do not allow to boil, as this toughens the clams. Serve at once.
Absolutely delicious - the sweet, sweated onions and the salty clams with the smokey bacon is perfect. The creamy texture with the soft potatoes is great with a piece of crusty bread - or oyster crackers! Best part is that it's even better the next day... but what soup isn't?