Smoky Bacon Clam Chowder

Sometimes I wish National Days would follow Catholic Friday Traditions. Today is National Clam Chowder Day. Yesterday was Friday. And not just any Friday, but the first Friday of Lent. A good day for Clam Chowder Soup.

But then again, the bacon might not have been kosher. Especially during Lent. Now I suppose we could have done without the bacon, but Kiddo would not have been a happy camper. Whenever possible, I try to keep my guys happy, healthy and fed while still observing our Catholic Traditions. All great subjects for another day.

Clam Chowder is an American dish. It goes without saying that all Clam Chowders contain clams. It is a dish that can be traced back to its Northeastern roots, although today Clam Chowder is enjoyed from coast to coast. The two most recognized are a white chowder, commonly called New England and a red chowder, known as Manhattan Clam Chowder. In Manhattan, they make their chowder with tomatoes, an influence believed to be from the Portuguese fishing communities. Portuguese fishermen had a tomato-based stew that they introduced to the Fulton Fish Market in New York in the mid-1800s. This tomato based stew evolved into Manhattan Clam Chowder. What is most interesting about this is that Rhode Island (home to many of the Portuguese fisherman) has a clam chowder all its own, with a clear broth containing neither dairy nor tomato.

New England Clam Chowder, the most popular on the west coast, is a Boston style chowder. In its original form, hard tack was crushed to use as a thickener in the cream based chowder. Yeah, hard tack – as in a dense biscuit often found in military rations, especially for sailors with long travels at sea. Not very appealing.

What can I say except we’ve come a long way from those hard tack days. Whenever Hubby and I are along the coast, I search out Clam Chowder. It’s my idea of comfort food on a foggy day. Enjoy!

Smoky Bacon Clam Chowder
8 Bacon Strips
2 Celery Ribs
1 Shallot
1 White Onion
3 Garlic Cloves
4 small Red Potatoes
2 tablespoons Butter
2 cups Chicken Stock
1/2 teaspoon White Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
1/3 cup Flour
2 cups Half-and-Half, divided
3 (6.5 oz) cans Chopped Clams, undrained
1 Bay Leaf
Chives, garnish

Stack bacon, dice and set aside. Trim ends from celery ribs, clean ribs, chop and set aside. Peel and mince shallot, set aside. Peel and dice onion, set aside. Peel and finely mince garlic, set aside. Scrub potatoes, cut into ½-inch bite-size pieces, set aside.

In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain; set aside. Add butter to the drippings, sauté celery, shallots, and onion until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the potatoes, stock, salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

In a small bowl, combine flour and 1 cup half-and-half until smooth. Gradually stir into the soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Stir in clams with juice and remaining half-and-half; heat through without boiling. Turn down to low heat; add the bay leaf. Cook for additional 3 minutes on low heat. Add in half of the crumbled bacon.

Ladle chowder into bowls or bread bowls. Garnish with remaining bacon. Snip chives, sprinkle over soup. Serve and enjoy.

The Lord’s kindness is everlasting to those who believe

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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