Cream less Clam Chowder
How can it be you say?
Well it can be and it’s actually delicious and complex. Also the addition of smoky pancetta also makes it rich and inviting. I love pancetta… salty delicious peppery pork. When one day I have a closet that I can devote to charcuterie I will make me own pancetta. Right now my sister would kill me if there was a huge piece of hanging pork in my bed room. I can see it now, can I barrow those shoes, go in my closet and scream bloody murder. I will avoid that for now.
Cream less clam chowder came about in the process of thinking I wanted clam chowder but I didn’t want to feel like I was a fat lump after eating it. It’s so rich and delicious which is what I think about when I think about eating clam chowder but I wanted to change it a little make it a little less abrasive and refine the little nuances of clam and vegetable marriage in a pot. Well with Italian bacon to back it up. So I was wondering around whole foods looking at their breads and I bought a loaf of sourdough. They must have been running low cause the bread section was kind of eh not really jumping out at me like buy this I’ve seen so many beautiful breads online and in the three bread books I’ve been bouncing around in that grocery store bread just nothing special. But I wanted sourdough and I can’t just whip that out in an evening so I decided that would be good enough. I walked through the market; it’s a special occasion if I go to whole foods. It’s not really in a normal budget for me but some things I desire like excellent organic spring mix, more exotic veggies, organic stocks or soups, seafood, or certain kinds of cheeses I have to go there to get them.
Thank god for living in a place where I have so many amazing markets to get things from top of the line to local farmers out here it’s pretty high living for a foodie out in Southern California. I used to frequent the particular Whole Foods I was in quite often when I lived in that area but I was passing through on my way back from the library and I found myself just browsing seeing what was nice. I knew I wanted to get some clams. They had a nice batch of them and I bought pancetta, and some veggie stock and while I was in the soup isle, which is rare for me to buy boxed soups because I make my own just fine but my best friend used to always have these things in the kitchen when we were living together. She loved them almost lived by them, along with lots of lettuce, cans of tuna, blueberries, and soy ice cream. I love you dude.
But anyway I thought of using this creamless organic potato leek soup made by Imagine as part of the base of the clam chowder. Now I’m sharing this particular recipe to show you that you really can build a lot of flavor from things that you never really thought of using. I was running low on time for dinner and had to make two things because my brother in law doesn’t eat clams so I used this soup as a base for flavor. That’s one of the things that makes restaurant cooking different from home cooking they have 24 hours (maybe less depending on how early they open and how late they close but you get what I’m saying) to develop flavors from stocks and sauces and ingredients that a lot of home cooks don’t have access to. So making your own stocks one day and freezing them is an amazing way to build flavor but if you can’t I like using organic veggie stock from Whole foods.
So this recipe will sound a little weird, it’s not a conventional clam chowder, its full of clams and veggies but see if you can take what I’ve done and maybe one day when you’re feeling a little adventures make your own chowder, I’d love to hear how it comes out.
Cream less clam chowder
¼ of an inch thick slice of pancetta cut into small dice
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 box of organic potato leek soup
2 cups of veggie stock
1/4 lb of clams(i used a combo of all kinds of different clams, the smoke form the oil packed clams is nice, the texture of fresh clams always rivals any kind of boxed or caned clam though) If you want to do all fresh clams go for the gold
1 small can of shelled clams (used wild caught baby clams in water and drained them)
1 small box of smoked clams
3 carrots peeled and diced small
2 sticks of celery diced small
½ small white onion minced
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon of dried thyme
Salt to taste which should be very little considering the pancetta and the stock which has sodium in them
Black pepper to taste
4 small Yukon gold potatoes washed and sliced in ½ then in ¼ and then ¼ inch thick pieces
Take clams and rinse them in cold water so that any sand that may be there is cleaned away, if any of your clams are open discard them they are dead and not good. For storing clams keep them in the fridge with a couple of paper towels that have been soaked in water and ringed out so that they are not sopping wet, over the top, never keep clams immersed in water you’ll kill them.
In a small sauce pan place 2 cups of stock over medium high heat and bring to a boil
Chop vegetables and pancetta in about the same sized pieces if you want this to be done faster cut the veggies and potatoes into very small pieces (I like the texture of large/medium sized pieces of veggies in this soup)
Mean while in a larger pot or pan whichever you have on hand you can also do this in a Dutch oven place the olive oil at the bottom of the pan on medium heat till glistening then add pancetta be careful not to walk away from it because it will burn and you have to throw it out. Mine came out a little crispier then I had hoped but it was still good. You want it to release all the flavors of the pork into the bottom of the pan so if it sticks a little that’s just fine it will lend to the flavor of the soup. Now when they are nice and golden take the pieces of pancetta out of the pan and set them aside on a small folded over paper towel.
Add in the onions and sauté till the onions have sweat and are translucent, then add the garlic and cook till soft, then add carrots and celery and potatoes cook for about 5 minutes till everything is incorporated and fragrant.
After this is done the stock should be boiling, place clams inside small sauce pan with the stock and simmer with a lid on till all the clams have opened, turn off the heat and take the clams out of the stock and if you’d like de-shell the calms and discard shells. You can also keep a couple in the shell for garnish if you’d like. (why do I do this you say to yourself? Well I guess you could not do this and then toss the clams in at the end but I like the extra element of clam juice simmering with the veggies when they cook and not over cooking the clams at the same time)
Now add the box of potato leek soup and the rest of the stock from when you steamed your clams to the vegetable mixture and simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are at the tenderness you’d like them to be.
Now add dried parsley, ½ teaspoon of dried thyme, drained clams, and smoked clams mix together and simmer for about 7-9 minutes till the soup takes on the clam flavor
In the last 2 minutes of cooking add ½ to ¾ (depending on how much you want for garnish)of the fresh clams to the soup along with adjustments of seasoning
Ladle out and top with some of the fresh clams and crispy pancetta and a nice piece of toasted sourdough or any other kind of bread you’d like, and maybe a little salad.
**if you don’t want to use potato leek soup, you can double the amount of potatoes you use and add about 4 cups extra stock, after you steam the clams add the potatoes to the stock cook them till their falling apart use a steam want and blend till thickened and smooth, the soup will have a different texture but still good
** vegetarian option. This can easily be a nice vegetable chowder just don’t use the pancetta and skip out on the clams, adding a couple different types of potatoes, some bell peppers, and corn will really make this soup a lovely vegan or vegetarian option. I’d boost up the herbs in this with a little fresh parsley and some fresh thyme slow simmering and adding the vegetables at different times during the cooking process to vary the textures will make for a really delicious healthy dish
Happy Chowder Eating
My blog will be promoting the Online Bake Sale for Relief in Japan
hosted by Thetomatotart.com
This bake sale is a over 40 blogger event to band together to do what we do best baking/cooking and help Japan in the process.The bakesale will feature people all across the globe reaching out through the food blogger community to show the people of japan they have not gone unnoticed.
An auction has been set up by Sabrina at thetomatotart.com which will give you the opportunity to bid on these wonderful food bloggers creations and have them sent straight to your home. All proceeds will go to Second Harvest which aids in offering food to those in need.
To meet the bloggers who will be baking for this amazing opportunity to help the people of Japan
please check out this link or click the banner below
I’ll be promoting this on my blog till the auction ends on March 30th and within the next couple of days, I’ll post what I’ll be contributing to the sale.
If you have any ideas of what you’d like me to make, please post a comment. I’ll be happy to take into consideration anything my readers have been wanting but haven’t been able to make themselves and wouldn’t mind bidding on, save japan and get a treat.
Baked from my hands with love.
If you could spread the word please do so!