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Clamoring for Clam Chowder

It’s National Clam Chowder Day, the perfect day to clamor for chowder. When did you have your first bowl of clam chowder? I had mine at Boudin’s on Fishermen’s Wharf in San Francisco; and, of course, it was served in a sour dough bread bowl. I love eating chowder in a bread bowl, because as you get to the bottom of the bowl, the chowder melts into the bread; and you can scoop up the chowder-soaked bread with your spoon.

We took our children to San Francisco; and after a long day touring Alcatraz, we were starving. We stopped at Boudin’s for chowder, and my children fell in love with this hearty soup so much so that I make it quite often. Preparing clam chowder brings back fond memories of time spent in The Golden City, and it is soothing on chilly, blustery evenings.

While you can steam and shuck fresh clams for chowder, it’s quite time consuming and a bit pricey. If you want to go the extra mile and use fresh, you will need about four dozen clams in the shell to yield two cups of clam meat. Whole Foods sells clams individually for 59 cents per shell; and, therefore, four pounds of fresh clams can cost nearly $30. If you use fresh clams, add at least one bottle of clam juice to the recipe.

I like buying canned clams for my chowder. Each can only costs $2.79, making it an inexpensive weeknight meal. Since canned clams are already cooked, add them after the potatoes are done. If you cook them separately before adding them to the chowder, they will become chewy. Three (6.5-ounce) cans yield two cups of clams and juice. I don’t drain the clams but put the clam juice into the chowder, adding more flavor.

Hearty Clam Chowder If you serve your chowder in bread bowls, sourdough bread is the best.

5 slices bacon, coarsely chopped 4 cups potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes, about 2 ½ pounds 2/3 cup green onions, thinly sliced 2/3 cup green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped 2/3 cup celery, chopped 2/3 cup fresh or frozen corn 2 ½ cups chicken stock 3 teaspoons minced garlic ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon white pepper 1 teaspoon Worcestershire® sauce 4 drops Tabasco® sauce 3 cans (6.5 ounces) chopped clams with clam juice 2 cups half-and-half

In a large kettle, sauté bacon until crisp over a medium heat. Add potatoes, green onions, green bell pepper, celery, corn, chicken stock, garlic, thyme, salt, white pepper, Worcestershire® sauce, and Tabasco® sauce. Cover the kettle and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add clams with juice and half-and-half to the kettle and heat, stirring, until piping hot. Do not boil.

To prepare bread bowls:

6 sourdough bread bowls Cut a circle in the top of a loaf of sourdough bread and scoop out the center to form a bowl. Cut scooped-out bread into bite-size chunks for dipping in the chowder. Serve chowder in bread bowl with tops on the side.

Cooking tip: Peeled, uncooked potatoes will discolor. To prevent this, immerse peeled potatoes in cold water for no more than 2 hours until ready to use.

Shopping for potatoes: When making chowder, buy waxy potatoes like Yukon Gold or red potatoes. Waxy potatoes are low in starch and high in moisture. They are smooth, creamy, and moist when cooked. The cells in these potatoes adhere during the cooking process, helping them hold their shape. Waxy potatoes can be boiled, roasted, baked, or steamed.

Carol Ann


Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Insider Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at CarolAnn@CarolAnnKates.com and explore her website, www.CarolAnnKates.com.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates

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