Flexibility is valuable in cooking. But so are tradition and technique. I tend to favor flexibility though, adjusting to conditions and availability and being able to recover from mistakes. But there are some dishes where it comes down to there being a right and wrong way to do it. This is the right way to make clam chowder. Sure there's still a little wiggle room, but if you stray too far you're making something else.
What you will need
2 Yellow Onion
1 Head Celery
6 oz. Bacon
2 cloves Garlic
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup White Wine
1 bunch fresh Thyme
3 lb Live Clams
6 Yukon gold Potatoes
2 cups Heavy Cream
1 bunch Chives
Black Pepper(Nutritional facts 141 calories, 8.38 g fat, 9.2 g carbohydrates, 6.58 g protein, 23 mg cholesterol, 452 mg sodium)
How to cook
Remove the stem tip and slice in half through the stem to root axis. Slice finely from the top, perpendicular to the sliced stem face without cutting through the root end. Then slice into the stem face several times with the blade parallel to the board to complete a hatch pattern. Slice again from the top perpendicular to the previous slice to dice finely.
Remove the base and leaves from your celery. Rinse away any grit that may be caught between the ribs and slice them lengthwise once or twice. Group the lengths into a bundle and dice to about 1/4".
Remove the root tip and most of the darker greens of the leek and discard. Slice the body of the leek in half lengthwise. Rinse to remove grit from the tightly layered sheets. Slice to about 1/4"
Cut the bacon into 1/4" squares.
Dice the shallot as finely as possible. Slice off the stem tip and remove the peel. With the point of the knife perpendicular to the root, slice as thin as possible without cutting through the root end. Rotate and slice perpendicular to yield tiny cubes.
Peel garlic cloves and chop or grate to a fine paste.
Heat some oil over medium heat in a large saute pan.
Stir in the minced shallot.
Stir in the crushed garlic.
When the garlic and shallot have begun to cook, their aromas wafting up from the pan, pour in the white wine.
Add a bundle of thyme.
Add the Clams.
Cover the Pan. I don't have a large enough lid, so I had to use my large skillet, which happens to be the perfect size.
Let the clams simmer away for about 5 minutes. Try not to peak under the lid too frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Discard any clams that refuse to open from cooking.
Remove the meat from each shell and discard the shells. Strain the broth from the clams over the meat. Refrigerate the picked clams while you finish preparing the rest of the soup.
place the potatoes in a sauce pot that's just big enough to fit them. Pour the cream over the top. You should have enough cream to submerge the potatoes. If not, cut them into halves or quarters so they'll stay beneath the surface of the cream.
Over low heat, allow the cream to come up to a gentle simmer around the potatoes. Don't let the cream boil.
Let the potatoes sit in the hot, bubbling cream until tender. This should take around 20 minutes, depending. Your potatoes are done when a knife or skewer will easily pass through to the center of the largest chunks of potato with little force.
Strain the potatoes and reserve the cream.
Slice away the sides of each potato chunk so that they each have all flat edges.
Then cut to a medium dice, around 1/2".
Take the scrap edges of the potatoes and put them back in the saucepot.
Add some of the cream (around half) that you used to cook the potatoes. The exact amount doesn't matter, as this will get mixed in with the remaining cream later.
Blend or mash. An immersion blender makes short work of this, but a potato masher will work fine too.
Heat a large pot over medium. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often, until it starts to get crispy.
Add the diced onion.
Add the diced Celery.
And the sliced leek.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent. Try your best not to develop much color in the vegetables here, in order to maintain a bright, white chowder.
Stir in the broth from the clams.
Add the rest of the cream that was used to cook the potatoes.
Bring the pot to a gentle simmer.
Add the diced potatoes.
Stir in the potatoes and cream. You may not want to use all of it. Just add enough to thicken the soup to your desired consistency.
Add the clams.
Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
Serve with a garnish of black pepper and sliced chives.