My friend, Elisabeth, calls this Three Little Bears Clam Chowder. She was going to call it Three Little Orphans Clam Chowder but she didn't want to take the chance of offending her three adopted children. They were once orphans in Russia. She and her husband traveled to Russia and stayed a month in order to do all the countless things required to rescue three human beings and bring them home to their forever family. All this cost a zillion dollars and absolutely worth every penny. These 3 human beings are cherished and fabulous and I love them each so very much. They were tiny when they came home so many years ago. Now they are 12 and 16 and 16. Marvelous people all.
Her three marvelous people (and her husband, too) love clam chowder and this is the recipe they love the best. She is gracious enough to share it with all of you and I do hope you make it and don't faint at the 2 1/2 cups of butter. Just remember that many clam chowder recipes are made with much cream. This one has no cream. Butter instead. And o my...is it ever good. Anything with butter is good, don't you think?
2 slices bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
2 1/2 cups butter (no substitutions!)
1 1/2 cups flour
8 - 10 cups water
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
2 medium potatoes, diced
sprinkle of nutmeg
sprinkle of thyme
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or to taste)
1 10-ounce can chopped clams
Cook bacon, onion, and celery until onion is transparent. Add butter (You read it right! 5 sticks of butter! No substitutions!!) and stir until melted. Stir in flour. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes over medium heat. Stir in water and milk to make a smooth soup. Add potatoes and spices. Drain clam broth into the soup. Cook for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Stir in clams and simmer 10 minutes longer.
This chowder can be as thick or thin as you like. We like it fairly thick but just add a little more water or milk, if you prefer, and thin it to the consistency that you and yours like. Also, white pepper is not hugely important. Black pepper is fine if you don't mind being able to see it. The white pepper just keeps the chowder white. And salt. Taste it as you make it. Keep adding salt and tasting. Some brands of butter are saltier than others and you might need more than 1 teaspoon. I love the salt. Add it until you are happy. One more thing. The clams. It calls for 'chopped' clams. Elisabeth uses 'minced' clams. She says this spreads the clams out more and you can are sure to get clammy goodness in every bite. Isn't she lovely? Why, yes. Yes, she is.
I almost forgot to tell you that this recipe is a wonderful freezer recipe. You can freeze it in family sized portions in a gallon or quart freezer bag (how big is your family?). Freeze meal sized portions. Or you can freeze it in single serve freezer bowls so you can have just one (or more) bowls ready to eat for lunch or to take to work or for that one left at home at dinner time when everyone else is somewhere else.
You might think that because of the potatoes it wouldn't freeze well. While it is true that potatoes turn mushy in the freezer, the potatoes in this soup turn soft anyway and you won't even notice! It does get a bit ugly in the freezer (doesn't everything?) but heat it up and give it a good stir and it will smooth right out and be lovely. Just lovely. Add a little milk to thin if it gets too thick for your taste.