Lighter Clam Chowder

For those times when you don’t have heavy cream lying in the fridge, this recipe will do in a pinch. I was a bit apprehensive when I made David Lebovitz‘s clam chowder sans full fat milk, half and half, and heavy cream, because he cautions against it. My sister is a fairly discerning eater, and I was scared she would reject it and then I’d have to eat a pot of subpar chowder all by my lonesome. But she loved it!

If you look at the original recipe, you’ll notice that I’ve halved it, but it still yielded about a quart of clam chowder, which is more than enough for two people. This is not the best damn chowder I’ve ever tasted and I’m sure a pound of fresh clams taste a lot better, but you can throw it together in half an hour while you’re doing a load of laundry in the morning and then heat it up for lunch.

It’s packs a more flavorful punch than the canned stuff –which I love– but isn’t as creamy. It thickens nicely once you let it sit, and there’s more than enough bacon fat for it to taste pretty good. I think my only reservation is that it might have too much bacon in it.

So once again, not something to make to impress the foodies, but it’s satisfying and it’s not a lot of work, and sometimes you needs those types of recipes, too!

Three slices of bacon and half an onion get cozy together.IMG_20150411_095557Add in two small potatoes once the bacon has released some of its fat. IMG_20150411_095929Next comes the clam juice, an entire cup of clam juice. I used two tins of Trader Joe’s canned clams, and strained the liquid through a fine mesh sieve to filter out any residual grit.IMG_20150411_101319Add a cup of milk. IMG_20150411_101332
Stir in the clams.

Light and Easy Clam Chowder

ADAPTED from David Lebovitz
1 tablespoon butter, salted or unsalted
2-3 slices of bacon, diced into strips or lardons
1/2 an onion, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch (1cm) pieces
1 large potato or 2 small ones, peeled and diced(into 1/4-inch (1cm) pieces
salt and ground black pepper
generous pinch of smoked or sweet paprika
1 cup (250ml) milk, I used 2% because I had it on hand.
parsley (I hate parsley so I omitted it, and used a tiny smidge of basil for color)

In a soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the butter and bacon together over medium heat, cooking the bacon for about 3 minutes, until it just starts to curl. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they’re translucent and soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the diced potatoes and season with salt (lightly, as the clam broth you’ll add later is salty), black pepper, and paprika. Stir a few times then add 1 cup (250ml) of the clam broth. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender. David’s original recipe said 6-8 minutes, but it took longer for me.

Meanwhile, strain the clams with a fine mesh strainer over the container to get the clam juice. Set aside the juice, and rinse the clams to remove any traces of grit. Roughly chop the clams if you like.

Once the potatoes are soft, add the milk, then the clams and gently warm until heated through, but do not boil. You can serve the chowder right away, stirring in the parsley just before ladling into bowls, or better yet, chill the chowder for several hours, which will give it time to meld and thicken. Rewarm it gently before serving. Taste for salt and pepper, adding more if you wish.


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