Fusion Clam Chowder

I call this ‘Fusion Clam Chowder’ because it is a mix of two styles: Manhattan (tomato-based) and New England (cream-based).  This was my first attempt at making clam chowder and I am happy to report that it was a successful one!  I will definitely be making this again.  The original recipe is from the Ocean Wise cookbook, which I have mixed feelings about.  Although most of the recipes look delicious, many are also complicated and require multiple steps and some unusual ingredients.  The clam chowder recipe is not one of them! I only made one change to the recipe, which was to replace 2 cups of tomato juice with vegetable stock.

To serve 4 (very hearty portions):

1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 fennel bulb, diced
1 garlic clove, sliced
3 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups vegetable stock
1 28-oz can of diced plum tomatoes
1 cup of whipping cream
2 lbs of fresh clams (scrub them if they are dirty on the outside)

In a large soup pot, melt 1/4 cup of butter (you could also use oil) and  add the onion, carrot, celery, fennel, and garlic.  Let cook for about 8 minutes or so.  Add the potatoes, vegetable stock, and tomatoes.  Let cook until the potatoes are tender.  Add the whipping cream and the clams.  When all the clams are opened, the chowder is ready.  Do not eat any clams that have not opened.

A note about clams:  when I got my clams home from the fish market, I put them in a bowl with about 2.5 litres of water and 1/8 cup of salt.  I let them sit for an hour and then I replaced the water.  This is one technique (apparently) for getting grit out of the clams.  I found it didn’t work and several of the clams were quite gritty.  My dinner-mates didn’t find it a problem, but I am determined to figure out a way to make them less gritty next time.  I read somewhere that cornmeal in the water could help? If anyone has any ideas about de-gritting clams I would be glad to hear about them!

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