I love clams. Actually, I should specify that I love canned clams. Growing up, I used to eat them straight out of the can as a snack. You can imagine the looks I got from people trying to figure out why the hall in my fraternity house suddenly smelled like a fish market. “What’s that smell,” they would sneer impertinently. “It’s heaven,” I would reply.
One of the best things about Lent is the excuse to eat seafood on Fridays. As part of my new eating regimen, I’ve been trying to incorporate more seafood into the rotation, so this tradition dovetails nicely. This isn’t the healthiest soup in the world, but it’s really not that bad—especially compared with the salt bomb from the grocery store. Just keep the portion sizes reasonable and this is actually a pretty well-balanced meal.
Clam & Shrimp Chowder
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 celery stalks, halved and diced
- 2 medium-sized russet potatoes, (one diced, the other riced)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 14.5 oz can low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 8 oz jar clam juice
- 4 6.5 oz cans minced clams in juice (I buy Doxsee/Snow’s)
- 1/2 pound shrimp
- 1/2 pint heavy cream
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
Chop all of the vegetables. Being a southerner who grew up with canned clam chowder, I prefer my soup a little thicker than the true New England version. I boil and then rice (mash) one of my potatoes into the pot near the end of the cooking process. If you don’t want to do this, then just dice both of the potatoes the same size.
This is pretty fast and easy. Just sauté the onion, celery, and garlic in the butter over medium-high heat until softened. Add the flour and stir until incorporated. Slowly add the chicken stock, clam juice (including the juice from the cans), cream, and bay leaves, and stir until smooth. Add the potatoes and reduce the heat to medium-low to prevent sticking. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
I boil one of the potatoes on medium-high in a separate pot of water. When it’s softened, I rice it directly into the pot of chowder, where it acts as a thickening agent.
You could also blend a little of the chowder just before adding the clams and shrimp, but why dirty the blender for such a small batch?
Finally, add the clams and the shrimp and cook for another 15 minutes.
I like to use small shrimp so that they fit on a spoon, but you could chop some larger shrimp before adding them. Fish out the bay leaves, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.
Top the chowder with cheese, croutons, fresh herbs, or anything else you have on hand. I like to garnish with the tender celery leaves. If you’re feeling adventurous, add a little sriracha.
This recipe isn’t all that different than my Chicken Soup; it’s thinner and features seafood. And if you add paprika, cayenne, and a roma tomato, it’s just a blending away from being a seafood bisque. A lot of people add corn to their chowder, but I save that for when I’m cooking with sausage or chicken.