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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Golden Clam Chowder









I love clam chowder, the white and creamy New England style, so the beginning of winter weather this weekend was a great time to make up a batch.

Now it happens that I also have lots of butternut squash and am always looking for ways to add this sweet, high vitamin and fiber ingredient to old standard recipes. Why not make that creamy chowder just a little richer, a little more colorful, and even a bit healthier?

Voila. Golden clam chowder.

I had found some bargains on seafood stock and canned clams so had the makings of a reasonably priced chowder. Add in the specials on evaporated milk, celery, potatoes, and onions in preparation for Thanksgiving feasts, and this became a pretty frugal and nutritious main dish.

With the over-eating many of us may be anticipating on Thanksgiving, an evening meal of chowder, applesauce, and crackers (oyster crackers, of course!) could be a good choice. Note the variations if you have pescatarians (vegetarian plus seafood diets) in the house or if you don't regularly have seafood stock on hand.



Golden Clam Chowder

  • 3 slices lean bacon, diced
  • 1 T canola oil  
  • 1 large onion, chopped--about 1 1/2 to 2 cups, depending on your taste
  • 3 large ribs of celery, sliced
  • 10 to 12 oz butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes
  • 1 1/4 lb diced potatoes--do not peel
  • 1 quart seafood stock
  • water
  • 1/3 c flour
  • 1 12 oz can fat free or regular evaporated milk
  • 12 oz canned clams, including liquid
  • salt and pepper to taste--start with about 1 t salt and 1/2 t freshly ground black or white pepper

1. Place the bacon in a large pot along with the oil. Add the onion, celery and squash and saute over low heat until the onions are golden and the squash is just starting to soften.

2.  Stir in the potatoes and about a cup or so of water along with half the stock. Cover and allow to simmer for at least 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes and squash are quite soft.

3.  Blend the flour and 1/2 c water (or milk) until smooth. Gradually stir into the chowder and continue stirring until the mixture begins to thicken.

4.  OPTIONAL STEP: If you prefer a very smooth, creamy chowder, put about half of the mixture in a food processor and blend until smooth. You may also use an old-fashioned potato masher. Return the processed mixture to the pot.

5.  Add the remaining stock, clams, and clam liquid and simmer for another 10 minutes or so.

6.  Reduce the heat and stir in the evaporated milk, along with water as needed to reach the desired thickness. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.



This is very good reheated. Note that, as with many creamy soups of this type, a thin film or "skin" may form on the surface. You can usually just beat this in without any problem. The quicker you cover and refrigerate any leftover soup, the less likely this is to occur.

Variations:

Omit the bacon and use 3 to 4 tablespoons of canola oil.

If you don't have access to seafood stock, you can substitute vegetable or chicken stock (purchased or homemade) and use an additional 6 to 12 ounces of clams.

Add about 1/3 to 2/3 cup dry milk powder to the water you add in step 4 and mix well before stirring into the chowder.

12 to 16 oz of frozen corn may be added with the evaporated milk. If you really want to be non-traditional, you could also stir in 8 to 10 oz frozen chopped spinach or kale at this point as well.

For a gluten free chowder, omit the flour and increase the amount of potato by another 4 to 8 ounces, mashing the potatoes as in step 4, to achieve a chowder-y thickness.

If you really, really, really don't want to see those pieces of potato peeling in the chowder, you can peel the potatoes...but before you pick up that peeler, think of all the extra work and reduced nutrition!








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