On cold, crazy school nights, it’s more than nice to be able to reach into the pantry and pull together a fast, satisfying meal. Pasta always is a safe bet, but this simple clam chowder is a terrific change of pace. Canned clams are a real treat if you put your hands on the right brand. Look for Doxsee or Snow’s brand (same company), which are packed in flavorful clam juice (not just water).
I personally prefer a brothy clam chowder, creamy but not thick and gloppy. This version is rich with bacon and onions, with just enough cream to set off the briny sweetness of the clams. Pure comfort! The fact that it’s fast and easy is really just a bonus.
New England Clam Chowder
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Note: You can skip the flour for a gluten-free chowder.
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped small
1 large Spanish onion, chopped small
2 Tbsp. flour (I skip this)
4 medium red potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4 dice
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2-1 c. heavy cream (to taste)
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
4 cans (6.5 oz each; preferably Snows or Doxsee) minced clams in clam juice, drained over a bowl, broth reserved
2 bottles clam juice (8 oz. each; preferably Snows or Yankee)
1 c. water
salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, fry the bacon over medium-low heat until the fat renders and the bacon crisps, 5-7 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir until lightly colored, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the reserved clam broth, clam juice, and water. Add the potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the clams, cream, parsley, and salt (if necessary) and pepper to taste; bring to simmer. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf, and serve immediately.