When I was a little girl, I remember my dad taking me to Ivar’s in Seattle. They specialized in quintessential Northwest seafood and they had all the old school seafood gems like fried clams, fish and chips and of course, clam chowder. The clam chowder was always my favorite.
It has been more than 20 years since I have been to that restaurant, but I still have a soft spot for clam chowder. However, some of my tastes have changed. I am scared of super thick white goopy chowder.
I made this clam chowder a little lighter in texture with a substantial amount of broth, some white wine and a little less roux then it would take to create a really thick chowder. But it still has a great feel in the mouth, and the flavor is wonderful and fragrant.
This was also surprisingly easy-don’t be intimidated by the fresh clams- they are no big deal!
Ok- Enjoy it. My family was all snuggled up with this during a snow storm yesterday, and it was delish!
Clam Chowder, serves 8
3 lbs clams (I used Manila Clams)
12 cups water
2 Tbs butter
1 onion, diced
1 head celery, diced
2 cups white wine
4 yukon gold potatoes, diced
1 cup cream
4 Tbs butter
4 Tbs flour
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
3 tsp fresh picked thyme
Kosher Salt and Fresh Black Pepper
Bring the 12 cups of water to a rolling boil.
Meanwhile, rinse and drain the clams.
Set up a very fine strainer (I used a chinoise) over a large bowl.
Add the clams to the boiling water and put the lid on the pot. Cook them about 1.5-2 minutes or until they have just barely opened.
Strain the clams (it should not only catch the clams, but any leftover grit too) and reserve the clam broth.
(The broth will look milky) Set it aside.
For the clams, reserve 8 whole clams for garnish. For the rest, take the cooked clam out of the shell (discard the clam shell.)
Roughly chop all of the clams and set aside.
Rinse the pot out to get rid of grit left in the bottom.
Add 2 Tbs of butter and then add the onion and celery along with a little sprinkle of salt.
Cook until the vegetables are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the wine and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes and half the fresh thyme, stir the vegetables to mix well.
Add the broth and put a lid on it to cook for 20 minutes. (** Don’t pour all of the broth in- the bottom inch or so will most likely have sand in it that will have settled from the bottom)
Add the clams and cream and the rest of the thyme.
In a small pan add the 4 Tbs of butter and melt it. Then add the flour and whisk and cook until thick . Add a cup of the hot soup stock and whisk it in until the roux is the consistency of paste.
Whisk the roux into the chowder and add the red wine vinegar.
Boil the chowder hard for 15 minutes so that the potatoes break down and the roux thickens the chowder up.
(sorry no Pictures!! I guess I forgot!)
Season the chowder with Kosher salt and Freshly cracked black pepper.
Garnish with the whole shell clams and some celery leaves.
Serve hot with crusty bread or oyster crackers.Print Recipe
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i saw clam chowder a total of about 50 times on foodnetwork this weekend and have been craving it ever since. i think this must be a sign!
yum! you did? is it clam season? I need to watch more tv !
Thank you for this recipe, Heather. It looks delicious and perfect for the weather we’re having. If I can find a way to the store today I’m going to get clams and make this. On FB I had mentioned the place in Des Moines, but the 1st chowder I ever had in the US, was at Totem Fish and Chips in Ballard. Stay snug and warm. 🙂
Cute! I love that place!! thank you- you stay snug and warm too!
Wow. I really wish I liked shellfish….
BUT! My hubby and boys do…
It looks like it’d be fun to make anyway. Even if I won’t be eating it.
JenMarie- maybe it would change your mind?!
The chowder looks super tasty. I love how you styled it with the clams still in their shell. It’s a beautiful presentation.
This lighter broth version of clam chowder looks good – I don’t like thick white goopy chowder either, it just feels like a blob of goop in your mouth with some clam flavor – ick! This recipe reminds me of the broth we make our steamed clams in, which has tons of flavor and makes a great bread dipping sauce after the clams are eaten. Will definitely try this recipe – thanks for a new spin!
This might be a sacrilegious question, but is there any other option for the clams other than fresh?
I am sure that a good quality canned clam would be just fine! You could also substitute salmon or chopped prawns.
i love how this broth looks so light!!! I’ve always hesitated making clam chowder b/c i’m afraid I’d hate myself afterwards for eating it. 🙂 this I can totally do, guilt free! 🙂
Yum! I wouldn’t call it “healthy”, but it is lighter than most!
I went to Ivar’s many moons ago and I remember that chowder. I love this variation!
A lovely, warming soup. Love how you styled it too 🙂
These are some gorgeous photos, Heather. You make me hungry for clam chowder!
Just what I was looking for. I made a yummy potato soup tonight and the base reminded me of chowda. I’m from Newport RI and recently moved to Missouri. I miss seafood, but most of all, good chowda. This base is my favorite. Can’t wait to cook it and serve.