Burr!! It's so cold outside! Definitely time for some of this creamy clam chowder. It can't help but be a happy day when I have this on the stove.
This is a recipe passed down from my grandmother to my mother to me. I can remember watching my mom make it, and stealing clams out of the can when I thought she wasn't looking. She liked to use whole baby clams, and once, as I pilfered the tender little morsels while her back was turned, I bit down on a tiny, whole clam shell that had somehow made it into the can during processing. I yelped (or made a similar such sound) when I bit down on what was essentially a small rock, and she gave me a pitiless, you-totally-deserve-that look. Ahh...good times in the kitchen, right?
This simple soup comes together very fast, in about 30 minutes, which makes it a perfect weekday meal. And perhaps other than the clams and clam juice, you probably already have everything you need in your kitchen. Believe me when I tell you, once you have this, you'll never want to go back to canned clam chowder--or even order it in a restaurant--again.
Mom's Clam Chowder
1 onion, diced
2 large ribs celery, diced
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 8-oz jar clam juice
2 6.5-oz cans chopped or minced clams, juice drained and reserved
4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk
1. In a large pot, combine the onion, celery, potato, jarred clam juice, reserved clam juice (from cans of clams), water, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium or medium-low to maintain a simmer, and cook partially covered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are almost tender. Remove from heat.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small (2-quart) pot over medium-low. Add the flour, whisk to combine well, and cook, stirring very often, for 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Whisking constantly, slowly add the milk to the flour mixture, whisking until completely smooth. Cook, stirring constantly (I can usually get away with "very, very often"), until the mixture is very thick (it reminds me of cake batter), about 5 minutes. Note: As it gets thicker you really have to stir and watch it so it doesn't scotch on the bottom.
4. Whisking gently, slowly add the flour roux to the big pot of vegetables, and whisk until completely combined. Add the clams, and stir to combine to warm through.