The rain is back. Time to make soup. (Really, just another excuse to chip away at the wall of vacuum-sealed razor clam bricks in my freezer…as if I needed an excuse.)
For both fish and clam chowders I hew closely to the classic New England recipe outlined by Mark Bittman in How to Cook Everything, although unlike Bittman, I prefer using a generous roux of melted butter and flour to thicken the chowder. That said, I’ll never go back to my earliest love of the whipped and creamy style so thick you can spread it on toast points, not since working in my youth at a Martha’s Vineyard restaurant famous for its chowder. Between us, that miraculous, float-a-cherry-on-top creaminess didn’t come from any particular technique or wizardry in the kitchen; it came from giant cans labeled “Chowder Base.”
I also like to slice the onions into wide half-moons and heap in a generous amount of thyme.
Razor Clam Chowder
2 cups chopped razor clams
4-5 strips of thick, quality bacon, diced
1 large onion, sliced into wide half-moons
2-3 cups peeled and cubed potato
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 quart chicken stock
1 pint heavy cream (or half and half)
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Sauté bacon in heavy pot, then remove with slotted spoon (or not). Sauté onions 1 minute in bacon fat, add potatoes and cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove onion-potato mixture for later use. Melt butter and mix in flour to make roux. Slowly add stock over medium heat. Return onions and potatoes and simmer until potatoes are tender. Add thyme and seasonings. Slowly add cream and clams and cook over low heat. Serve piping hot, as my dad always says, with good bread.